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Rebels hit back

Free Syrian Army fighters run for cover after Syrian forces fired a mortar in the El Amreeyeh neighborhood of Syria

AMMAN — Syrian rebels said they planted bombs inside the Syrian army’s General Staff headquarters in central Damascus yesterday as President Bashar al-Assad’s forces bulldozed buildings to the ground in parts of the capital that have backed the uprising.

Syrian state television said four people were wounded in what it called a terrorist attack on the General Staff compound in the highly guarded Abu Rummaneh district, where another bomb attack killed four of Assad’s top lieutenants two months ago.

“The operation targeted officers in the Assad army who have been planning and giving the go ahead for the massacres against the Syrian people,” said a video statement by the Grandsons of the Prophet brigade, a division of the Free Syrian Army.

“Bombs were planted inside the army headquarters,” said the video statement, which was broadcast on Arab satellite channels.

But as the rebels demonstrated they could strike at the heart of the security apparatus, residents said army bulldozers moved on al-Zayat and Farouk neighbourhoods to the west, and destroyed at least 20 buildings in the Sunni Muslim areas that have sheltered the insurgents.

In the eastern Damascus neighbourhood of Hazza, footage taken by activists yesterday showed several buildings on fire. Opposition sources said the army had earlier stormed the area and executed 27 young men.

“Any youth of fighting age seems to have been captured and killed,” said activist Obadah al-Haj, who had fled the area.

Activist video footage from the area showed a young man lying dead beside a yellow taxi, shot in the face. Another dead youth was in the driver seat, blood covering his head and chest.

Assad belongs to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam that has dominated power since members of the sect led a military coup in 1963. Assad’s father took power in 1970. (Reuters)

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