Syrian Revolution News Round- up / Day 626 / Regime shuts down Damascus airport, commits massacres in Aleppo

Regime forces carried out a major security operation in the opposition-held areas surrounding Damascus international airport in the suburbs of Damascus, mainly in the provincial towns of Aqraba and Bait Sahem, prompting violent clashes with the rebels who also fired mortar shells into a military barrack stationed in the town of Haran Awamid, 5km east of the airport.

The violence has forced the closure of the airport and suspension of all flights, while Dubai’s Emirates airline as well as Egypt Air announced that they’re indefinitely suspending all flights to and from the Syrian capital for security reasons. Moreover, all employees at the airport were asked to leave until further notice as the state news media reported that the airport was closed for maintenance.

Activists also reported that the regime instructed the 9th and 5th military divisions in Daraa as well as the 15th division in Suwaida to move into Damascus to support its battered forces amid fears that more massacres could be committed against unarmed civilians.

Internet service was cut off for the first in the entire country today while both cellphone and telephone services were also partially down. Renesys, a U.S.-based technology company that monitors Internet networks, reported that starting at 10:26 UTC (12:26pm in Damascus), Syria’s international Internet connectivity shut down. Electricity was also cut off in the entire suburbs of Damascus as well as in its southern neighbourhoods. Activists warned that the Assad regime might be planning to escalate its crackdown against the rebels-held areas.

The rebels seized control of two air defense bases in the suburbs of Aleppo, one near the village of Abtin in the south and another in the east. They also seized control of a military base in the suburb of Damascus.Activists said that rebel fighters seized more than 6000 cooking gas cylinders in Aleppo city and distributed them among the neighborhoods they control.Regime forces shelled as many as 198 different areas today. They fired mortar shells on more than 74 areas while their heavy artillery pounded more than 56 others. Some 51 areas came under rocket shelling and four more were bombarded by barrel bombs. Fighter jets bombarded more than ten areas of which four are said to have been shelled by thermobaric bombs thus causing extensive damage to residential buildings and leaving scores of people dead and injured.

At least 54 people died in Aleppo and its suburbs today, 20 of whom were killed in an airstrike that leveled three buildings to the ground and left 40 more people critically wounded. Some nine children and two women were among the fatalities. Ten more people were reported dead today after yesterday’s airstrike on the Aleppo suburb of Menbej. Meanwhile, ten rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Liramon district near Aleppo city. Regime airstrikes also killed seven people in the Damascus suburb of Daraya and two more in Douma. Today’s death toll in Damascus and its suburbs is the lowest in months. For the third day in a row, the Daraa suburb of Tafas has been subjected to a major military campaign as hundreds of troops backed by military tanks carried out arson, looting and summary executions, leaving at least six people dead. Today’s death toll reached 99, including 23 children and four women as well as 20 rebel fighters. At least 60 people were also injured.