Within Earshot of Syrian Civil War, Damascus Citizens Carry On

Feb 19, 2013 5:50pm
abc terry moran mi 130219 wblog Within Earshot of Syrian Civil War, Damascus Citizens Carry On

Image: ABC News

ABC News’ Terry Moran and his team take a rare and dangerous journey into the embattled capital of Damascus for the special reportInside Syria: The Battle for Damascus.

Life in a city under siege is surreal.

Damascus, with its traffic jams and business deals, carries on while artillery fire and bombing raids punctuate the din and cover the city in a blanket of dread. It is Tuesday evening, and smoke billows from the suburbs. For now, the battleground appears to be on the outskirts of town.

Damage can be seen at a hospital in the Christian quarter of town, caused by primitive mortars fired by rebels. Just another stop on our trip.

To visitors, the booms of warfare may be jarring, but residents have grown accustomed to the sounds of shelling and bombs. They hardly notice anymore. They are all too aware that it could be much worse, as is the case elsewhere in Syria.

In the Damascus suburb of Daraya, battle has gone on for months — with government air strikes reducing much of the area to rubble. In Aleppo, fighting continued between Assad’s forces and Syrian rebels on Tuesday, costing lives with the possibility that more bodies lay buried in the rubble.

Some, including Jordan’s King Abdullah, say the longer the conflict drags on, the greater the danger to the entire region. Adding to the growing concern is the alleged influence foreign jihadists are enjoying among the Syrian rebel forces.

“Al Qaeda is established in Syria,” King Abdullah told us.  “They’ve been there for about a year.”

The losses have been overwhelming and widespread. A wake was held Tuesday afternoon for a popular local politician in Damascus. He was kidnapped and burned to death in his car by jihadist rebels, who claimed credit on the Internet, sources told ABC News.

For the first time, rebel mortars were fired not far from one of Bashar Assad’s palaces late Tuesday, but there were no deaths and not much damage. In Damascus, the fear is real: the fear of what tomorrow may bring.

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