Assad Makes Gains, But Rebels Still Hold Homs

State run media aired footage from inside the Khalid bin Walid mosque, showing heavy damage

Assad forces captured an historic mosque in the central city of Homs on Saturday, expelling rebel forces that had controlled the 13th century landmark for more than a year.

 

The capture of the Khalid Ibn al-Walid mosque dealt a symbolic blow to opposition forces, AP reported.

 

A Zaman al-Wasl reporter in Homs meanwhile said that rebel snipers had killed five Assad soldiers inside the mosque square.

 

Rebel morale remains high, the reporter said, while another opposition activist said that clashes were still going on around the mosque.

 

The regime wants to achieve a "media victory," despite only making tentative gains on the ground, one analyst told Zaman al-Wasl.

 

The state-run news agency SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying that troops took control of the mosque in the heavily disputed northern neighborhood of Khaldiyeh.

 

Syrian TV aired a report Saturday night of the operation, broadcasting footage from inside the mosque and showing heavy damage to the building and the tomb's dome knocked out. The footage showed debris strewn on the floor and a portion of the mosque appeared to have been burned.

 

Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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