Residents claim clashes between state forces and rebels are the heaviest to have reached Damascus since the start of the uprising in Syria.
It is the spread of the fighting which has led the International Committee of the Red Cross to say the conflict is now in effect a civil war. The Red Cross had previously regarded only the areas around Idlib, Homs and Hama as war zones.
The U.N. observer team in the country has called on President Bashar al-Asaad’s government to stop using heavy weapons in built up areas. They visited the village of Tremseh so see the effects of a sustained attack in which activists claim over 100 people were killed.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said security forces targeted “armed terrorists.” The observers interviewed 27 of the villagers. One of them said: “They killed my three brothers. One of them was a defector and two were civilians. They executed them – killed them. They killed them, burnt them and took their bodies away with them.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross statement that the conflict is now a civil war means combatants will now be officially subject to the Geneva Conventions, leaving them more exposed to war crimes prosecutions.