World News

Dozens of casualties in attack on Damascus police HQ - activist

AMMAN (Reuters) - A guerrilla rebel attack on the Damascus police headquarters on Thursday left dozens of security personnel and militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad dead or wounded, an opposition activist said.

Rebels armed with AK-47s, small machineguns and explosive devices cut off two main roads leading to the complex in the central Qanawat district and attacked it at around 4:45 p.m (1345 GMT), he said.

“Three patrol cars came to the site and were hit by roadside bombs near Bab Sreijeh. I saw three bodies in one car. Others said dozens of security men and shabbiha (Assad militia) lay dead or wounded along Khaled bin al-Walid street before ambulances took them away,” the activist, Abu Rateb, said by phone from the area.

“The headquarters is blackened and it looks abandoned,” he added.

Other opposition activists in Damascus said rebels had managed to blast their way into the heavily fortified complex and seize weapons before withdrawing, following a one-hour firefight.

Syrian authorities have banned most independent journalists from the country, making independent verification of events on the ground difficult.

Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; editing by Andrew Roche