Assad's Damascus Onslaught Most 'Intense' Yet
50 reported killed yesterday
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 16, 2012 6:15 AM CDT
In this citizen journalism image taken on Friday, July 13, 2012, Syrians chant slogans during a demonstration in Damascus, Syria.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)

(Newser) – Neighborhoods across Damascus are facing a second day of regime attacks, and it has "never been this intense," says a leading activist. The army has been firing mortar rounds into areas held by the opposition Free Syrian Army, Rami Abdel Rahman notes. "The security forces are attempting to take control of these neighborhoods but so far they have not succeeded." Still, those areas have become a "battlefield," opposition leaders say, and some 50 people were reported killed in the country yesterday.

The regime is rejecting UN assertions that it used heavy weaponry in Tremseh, which would violate its agreement with the international body. "Government forces did not use planes, or helicopters, or tanks, or artillery. The heaviest weapon used was an RPG," says a foreign ministry rep. But al-Jazeera reports that one photojournalist who visited the area cited "obvious proof of heavy weapons." A UN report yesterday pointed to "over 50 houses that were burned and/or destroyed," along with "pools of blood and brain matter." The report didn't assign blame for the attack. The Red Cross has now labeled the conflict a civil war.