Mortars explode near Syrian presidential palace

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 23:59

Damascus: Two mortars exploded near one of Syrian President Bashar Assad`s palaces in Damascus on Tuesday but caused only material damage, Syria`s state news service said.

The attack was the first confirmed strike close to a presidential palace and another sign that the civil war is seeping into areas once considered safe and reaching closer to the heart of Assad`s seat of power in the capital.

The news service, SANA, said "terrorists" fired the rounds that struck near the southern wall of the Tishreen palace in the capital`s northwestern Muhajireen district. The government rebels to anti-government fighters as "terrorists."

No casualties were reported and it was unclear whether Assad was in the palace. He has two others in the city.

Assad often uses the Tishrin palace to receive dignitaries and as a guest house for foreign officials during their visits to Syria.

His two other palaces are the People`s Palace on Qasioun mountain overlooking the capital and Rawda palace in the central neighbourhood of Abu Rummaneh.

For security reasons, Assad movements are shrouded in secrecy and it is unclear how much time he spends in any of the palaces. His public appearances have grown increasingly infrequent as the civil war has spread.

The Syrian capital has largely been spared the violence that has left other Syrian cities in ruins. For weeks, however, rebels who have established footholds in the suburbs have been pushing closer to the heart of the city from the eastern and southern outskirts, clashing with government forces.

Rebels have claimed to fire rockets at the presidential palaces before, but today`s strike was the first confirmed by the government.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 23:59

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