Fear in Syrian capital as mortar shells rain down

Nov 29th, 2013 | By | Category: Weekly Washington Updates

Christian and other minorities targeted by Obama supported “rebels”

By ALBERT AJI and ZEINA KARAM (AP)

Nov. 12, 2013 photo shows mourners carrying the coffin of a child killed in a mortar strike at the the Yuhana al-Dimashqi School in Damascus, Syria.

Nov. 12, 2013 photo shows mourners carrying the coffin of a child killed in a mortar strike at the the Yuhana al-Dimashqi School in Damascus, Syria. (Licensed from AP)

DAMASCUS, Syria — They fall randomly, often during rush hour, smashing into schools, businesses, churches and homes in the Syrian capital and leaving a trail of death and terror in their wake.

They fall randomly, often during rush hour, smashing into schools, businesses, churches and homes and leaving a trail of death and terror in their wake. As President Bashar Assad’s forces press ahead with a crushing offensive, rebels are increasingly hitting back by sending volleys of mortar shells into central Damascus. Many residents now barricade themselves at home and schools are half empty. Businessmen say sales have plunged, because people no longer dare to go out

As President Bashar Assad’s forces press ahead with a crushing offensive, rebels are increasingly hitting back by sending volleys of mortar shells crashing into central Damascus, hoping eventually to loosen the leader’s firm hold on the capital.

Dozens of shells have struck the historic city center and surrounding areas in the past two weeks, launched from rebel-held neighborhoods on the outskirts. Mortar shells, many homemade, are known to be imprecise so it’s not possible to determine whether the rebels fire them randomly or at specific targets.

Much of the shelling in recent weeks has centered on Christian-majority areas in the Old City, where many residents now barricade themselves at home and schools are half empty. Businessmen say sales have plunged, because people no longer dare to go out.

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