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Damascus no longer safe haven in violence-torn Syria


10:05, February 21, 2013

DAMASCUS, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- As the deadly conflict in Syria nears its second anniversary, the rampant unrest looks determined to rattle the core of the capital Damascus that had stayed largely calm amid the violence raging across the country.

Appalled by what has befallen other Syrian cities, the Damascenes are now more vulnerable than ever to see their city plagued with falling mortars and shouting blasts from the unabated violence engulfing its surroundings.

With its outskirts turned into battlefields, several mortar attacks recently rattled Damascus, shaking the capital's schools, hospitals, and even sport facilities.

On Wednesday, a six-month-old infant became an orphan as his father Youssef Suleiman, a football player, was killed when two mortar shells fired by armed groups struck the Tishreen stadium in central Damascus. The blasts also left other players injured and caused great material damages to the facility.

Syria's state-media accused the rebels of targeting the stadium.

A day earlier, two mortars, allegedly fired from the Kafar Souseh district of Damascus, slammed an area between two hospitals and a presidential guest palace in Al-Mazzeh district.

On Monday, three mortar rounds fired from unknown destination landed respectively at a French hospital, the adjacent al-Maoneh School and Fares Khouri street in the Christian-dominated neighborhood of al-Qassa.

Aside from falling mortars, blasts from explosive devices become increasingly common in Damascus.

The recent intensification of violence in the capital has made Damascenes feel unsafe to commute between different areas in the city.

Munhed, a newly married young man, said he has stopped going to work recently to stay with his pregnant wife that is about to give birth soon. "I can't leave her alone now... Sounds (of blasts) have become so strong now that I fear for her and the foetus as well... I only go out now to get some stuff for my family."

While some people adjust their way of living due to the increased threat of violence, others choose not to change their daily routine.

Amal, 27, told Xinhua "what is going to happen will happen. After all, staying in my country is a kind of resistance against death. I'd rather die here than living anywhere else."

Sameera, a lawyer, told Xinhua "I am always on the edge. A shell could hit at any moment a member of my family. But I will not be a coward staying at home. I could be hit indoors too. It's determined by fate."

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