Syrian rebels attack Baath Party building in Damascus

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NICOSIA — For the first time, rebels have struck the heart of the
regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Opposition sources said rebel fighters launched a rocket attack on the
ruling Baath Party in Damascus. They said the pre-dawn attack on Nov. 20
consisted of the firing of rocket-propelled grenades toward the empty party

The main building of the ruling Baath Party in Damascus reportedly came under attack on Sunday by insurgents. /EPA

The Free Syrian Army, based in neighboring Turkey, claimed
responsibility for the attack. FSA, which reports 20,000 fighters, said it was escalating its military campaign against the Assad regime in the Damascus area.

The sources said the attack, also reported by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, took place in Mazraa district of Damascus. They said Syrian security forces quickly arrived and closed off the area.

Over the last few weeks, the rebels have launched nearly nightly attacks in suburbs of Damascus. They included a strike on a Syrian Air Force Intelligence facility in Harasta in which at least six people were killed.

At the same time, the rate of desertion from Assad’s military and
security forces has increased. The sources said Sunni officers have refused
orders to open fire on anti-Assad demonstrators in Duma in mid-November.

At this point, the sources said, Assad has seen his military support
dwindle to about 40,000 soldiers. They were said to consist of the army’s
4th Division and the Republican Guards, both commanded by Assad’s younger
brother, Maher.

“Every time, there is an attack on the protesters, more officers defect
and join the opposition,” another source said.

The Assad regime has acknowledged increased rebel attacks but did not
confirm the Nov. 20 strike. The official Syrian news agency, Sana, has
reported the imminent arrival of Russian Navy ships to Syria in November.
The Russian Navy operates bases in Latakia and Tartous.

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