Syrian rebels claimed Thursday that they killed 250 Hezbollah fighters and captured dozens in fierce battles in the suburbs of Damascus, while a missile attack reportedly killed 40 people in the city of Raqqa.
Hebrew media sources, citing the Lebanese al-Mustaqbal newspaper, reported the claim by the Free Syrian Army on Thursday, although the information could not be confirmed by other sources.
According to Israel Radio, Hezbollah acknowledged the deaths of three of its fighters, including the nephew of a Lebanese minister, in battles near Damascus, but not the 250 claimed by the rebels.
The Local Coordination Committees in Syria reported only 17 deaths in Syria on Thursday.
Local Coordination Committees in Syria
Thursday starts with 17 martyrs reported including 1 woman and 1 child:… http://t.co/bTr6sfqjyF
— LCCSY (@LccSy) November 28, 2013
Opposition sources in Syria also made as-yet unsubstantiated claims Thursday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Jobar. No deaths were reported.
In eastern Syria, Saudi news outlet Al-Arabiya reported that Syrian government forces launched a Scud missile at Raqqa that slammed into a market, killing 40 people and injuring over 200. Dozens more people were believed to be trapped under the rubble after the impact.
The latest round of bloodshed in the three-year old civil war comes as the government and the rebels fighting to bring it down tentatively agreed to hold talks in Geneva at the beginning of 2014.
However, both sides have already made statements suggesting they have very different expectations from the negotiations. The rebels see the talks as aimed at bringing about the removal of Assad from power, while the government has made it clear it has no intention of stepping down. The opposition has also demanded the establishment of humanitarian corridors to areas that the regime has under siege as a precondition to attending the talks.