Absent a "no fly zone" to stop him, Bashar Assad has turned more and more to his air force. It has been no secret that for the past several months Assad has been using helicopter gunships against FSA targets and the civilian populace. Today, he unleashed fighter jets on strafing and bombng runs against thelargest city, Aleppo. More than 1,000 FSA fighters are in the city. Lightly armed with AK-47"s, rocket propelled grenades and homemade anti-tank bombs, they are little match against Assad's armor; yet the battle is in it's fifth day.
According to SANA, Damascus has been "cleansed of foreign terrorist." After days of intense fighting, the FSA had to withdraw from the neighborhoods Of Medan and Tadamon. Much of the Medan district was in ruins, pummeled for days by mortar, rocket, artillery, and tank fire. Last year, Assad used the start of holy month of Ramadan to intensify his suppression of the democratic uprising. This year, the FSA took the initiative to strike at the heart of the regime in a military operation code named Damascus Volcano. After successfully hitting Assad's inner circle with a bombing and killing four cabinet members, the FSA launched offensives across Syria. Taking over border post with Iraq and Turkey, and launching hit and run attacks in Aleppo and the capital, two cities which were largely unscathed by Assad's scorched earth policy. Until now. The offensive temporarily knocked the Assad regime off balance, many Damascus residents were appalled to see the scope of violence that Assad has unleashed on cities such as Homs and Hama.
Assad controls the large cities but not much else in between. Most small towns and cities have suffered the fate of Al Rastan, complete and utter destruction. It is estimated that there are 1.5 million people displaced in Syria. What happened in the Medan district in Damascus was more than just destruction, houses were looted by regular army and Shabiha militia. Whole families were slaughtered for being suspected of "helping the rebels." Wounded civilians in Hospital in Damascus were careful to blame all of their wounds on the "rebels." Perhaps one of the few hospitals in the country which still practice medicine. In other cities, hospitals have become torture centers run by Mukhabarat. The military actually took time to paint over the anti-government graffiti left by the FSA, but made no attempt to hide the destruction there.
Both Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama have warned the Assad regime that they "will be held responsible" if they use chemical weapons against their people. On Tuesday, Clinton speaking at a conference on the prevention of genocide, made it clear that "certain countries, namely three, Iran, Russia, and China" prolonged this conflict and directly aided the Assad regime. She also stated the administration would be aiding the opposition more, "the longer this drags on the more the likelihood for radicalization." Earlier on Monday, Jihad Makdissi, a spokesperson for Syrian Foreign Ministry, said that the government "would not use chemical weapons against civilains," but that such "non conventional" weapons would be used agianst any "foreign intervention." His statements quickly brought condemnation from many countries including Russia, who reminded him that would be against International protocol and law.