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Huge explosion in Damascus, Wi-Fi and 3G cut-off - RT reporter (VIDEO)

Published time: July 20, 2012 11:08
Edited time: July 20, 2012 22:41
A Syrian army soldier walks in a partially destroyed neighborhood in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

A Syrian army soldier walks in a partially destroyed neighborhood in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

A strong blast has occurred in the Syrian capital Damascus, says RT's correspondent on the ground. Internet access has been cut off. According to security sources, the Syrian army has begun a counter attack to regain control of the capital.

­RT's correspondent Maria Finoshina said it was "the loudest explosion heard in days", with internet and WI-FI access disappearing immediately afterwards.

Black smoke rose from ruined homes and three bloodied corpses lay in a square in Midan in Damascus, AFP reported.

Government forces recaptured the rebellious district of Midan in a "fierce fight" earlier in the day, Syrian State TV reported.

"Army forces have completely cleaned the area of Midan in Damascus of the remaining mercenary terrorists and have reestablished security," state television said.

“Armed elements entered neighborhoods and attacked the residents, who begged us to rescue them,” the state broadcaster cited an officer, whose name was not mentioned, as saying.

“We began the recapture the day before yesterday, in the evening, and finished our work today (Friday) at dawn,” the officer continued.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based watchdog, said "tanks and armed personnel carriers stormed the district", which is located in the south of the capital.

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RT Photo / Maria Finoshina
RT Photo / Maria Finoshina

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RT’s correspondent twitted on her microblog that Midan used to be one of the most beautiful areas in the capital, but now, after all the battles, it is difficult to recognize.  

The fighting in Midan and several other districts has forced many Syrian families to leave their houses in Damascus and flee.  

Fighting in the capital has intensified over the past few days as rebels launched their most serious assault on the capital so far on Wednesday. Rebels detonated an explosive device hidden at the National Security building in the district of Rawda during a meeting, killing Syria’s Defence Minister Dawoud Rajha, Gen. Assef Shawkat – the deputy defense minister who was married to Assad's elder sister – and Hassan Turkmani, a former defense minister who later died of wounds suffered in the blast.

Syrian intelligence Chief Hisham Bekhtyar, who also seriously injured during the attack, died in the hospital later on Friday.

The Wednesday attack which targeted members of Assad’s inner circle was followed by an attack on the government headquarters carried out by Syrian rebels the next day.  

Fighting continued to rage on Thursday in the al-Midan and Zahira neighbourhoods, while loud explosions were heard in Mashrou-Dumar.

It was reported on Friday morning that rebels have seized at least one check-point in the remote Sinjar mountain range near the Iraqi border, killing “22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers”, AFP reposted.

The news agency also quoted Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi, who said that Syrian rebels took control under “all Iraq border points”.

In addition, amateur video posted online showed rebels taking over the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, where they stomped on portraits of Assad.

The new wave of violence coincided with discussions in the UN Security Council concerning a resolution On Thursday Russia and China vetoed the Chapter 7 resolution drafted by Britain, which would also allow the 15-member council to authorize actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention.

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A Syrian army soldier and a resident look at burned neighborhood in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)
A Syrian army soldier and a resident look at burned neighborhood in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

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Syrian army soldiers hang their national flag in a partially destroyed neighborhood in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)
Syrian army soldiers hang their national flag in a partially destroyed neighborhood in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

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A resident of the al-Midan area in Damascus rides his bicycle past Syrian army tanks and armoured vehicles on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)
A resident of the al-Midan area in Damascus rides his bicycle past Syrian army tanks and armoured vehicles on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

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Members of the media take pictures of weapons, communciation equipments and military outfits allegedly left behind by Syrian rebels in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)
Members of the media take pictures of weapons, communciation equipments and military outfits allegedly left behind by Syrian rebels in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012 (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

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