The Commercial Appeal

Fighting escalates in Damascus


BEIRUT — Heavy fighting erupted in Damascus Wednesday as government forces tried to hold back a new rebel effort to push the civil war into the heart of the Syrian capital, activists said.

The clashes in Damascus were the most intense violence to hit the capital in weeks. The sounds of gunfire and blasts from government shelling of rebel-held areas could be heard in most neighborho­ods.

Activist videos online showed shell explosions dotting rebel areas east of the city, covering them with clouds of smoke.

Government troops blocked traffic at a key intersecti­on in the city’s northeast and on a number of nearby roads.

Damascus has not experience­d the same fierce fighting as other Syrian cities like Aleppo or Homs, where whole neighborho­ods have been destroyed.

While the government has lost control of parts of those cities, it has kept a tight grip on the capital, despite rebel attempts to storm the city center from enclaves on its outskirts. nuclear weapons capability. Iran maintains it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes only.

The newest sanctions, announced by the Treasury Department, are aimed at Iranian agencies and companies that stifle dissent and impede the free flow of informatio­n. They target the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasti­ng; its director, Ezzatollah Zarghami; the Iranian Cyber Police; and the Communicat­ions Regulatory Authority.

The sanctions that were written into law in August impose new penalties on companies and individual­s who work with Iran’s energy, petrochemi­cal, insurance, financial and shipping sectors. The prohibitio­ns will make it more difficult for Iran to bring home oil revenues.

The sanctions so far have not caused the Islamic regime to give ground on its nuclear program.

Wire Services

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