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Syria Live Coverage: Regime Warplanes Strike in Damascus for 1st Time

2104 GMT: A micro-blogger has collected a series of videos from the FSA offensive against Halfaya, north of Hama city (map). The city is under heavy rebel attack, as the Free Syrian Army and other units are stretching the front lines to the south. After weeks of ambushes, IED attacks, and generally picking at Assad's supply lines, it appears that the insurgents have moved into Hama province with a vengeance. If this kind of momentum can be sustained over the next few days, it could signal a further Assad military collapse, but this one just kilometers from one of the most important cities in Syria:

2046 GMT: A reader sends us another video to go with the last update, a mortar being prepped in Aleppo province:

2025 GMT: Most of our entries about the insurgency are geography based, following the strengths and movements of insurgent units in a particular region. However, we've collected many videos, from many areas of Syria, that show the rapidly growing firepower of the insurgency (including the Free Syrian Army, idependent Islamist brigades, and Jabhat al Nusra). This video was reportedly taken in Bizaytah, in Idlib province (map), likely part of the advance of the Free Syrian Army and other brigades from the Jisr al Shughour mountains. The video shows a man firing what appears to be a Metis Anti-Tank missile at a target (perhaps a tank, hard to say) in the distance. The weapon fires a HEAT missile.

Speaking of HEAT missiles, rebel forces have now captured an outpost in Khan Toman (map), south of Aleppo. In one video, you can see dozens (maybe hundreds) of crates filled with 125mm HEAT rounds, which can be fired in captured tanks or anti-tank artillery guns, as well as perhaps thousands of crates of other munitions and missiles (thanks to Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch for this):

The battle also sparked a spectacular, yet extremely deadly, ammunition cook-off, as at least one of the ammunition bunkers was destroyed:

Meanwhile, inside the city of Aleppo, the rebels finally captured the Hanano Barracks and the Infantry school (map). The FSA came close to overruning the base months ago, but the regime launched an intense air and tank attack to regain the facility. Now, as a sign of the turning of the tide here, both Al Nusra units and members of the Taweed Brigade overtook the base, capturing an extensive collection of small arms:

And military vehicles, including tanks:

More firepower brought to bear on the Assad regime in Aleppo:

Meanwhile, anti-tank missiles, RPGs, and captured armor are crushing Assad's remaining firepower in Deir Ez Zor, where this was reportedly filmed today:

1915 GMT: An interesting series of videos, reportedly taken in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus (map, see updates below). This first claims to show "spoils" from the office of Ahmed Jibril, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the pro-Assad Palestinian group whose headquarters was reportedly overrun today. There is no way to verify the location, as it is inside a building:

Meanwhile, this video reportedly shows tanks destroyed in Babilla (map), just east. Again, it's hard to visually confirm the location, especialyl because of the darkness.

Then there is this report from the LCC in Zamalka (map):

The Free Syrian Army successfully pushed back a convoy of regime forces on the southern interchange "Motahaleq" and destroyed bus for regime forces, this came as regme forces manning checkpoints fired trace bullets in the sky above the city.

While we don't yet have any visual evidence of this claim, this video below was reportedly taken two days ago and clearly shows fighters from the Martyrs Brigade destroying a tank with "mines," reportedly in Zamalka (we can't pinpoint this video on a map, but the architecture is consistent with this neighborhood):

1903 GMT: According to the Local Coordination Committees, 121 have been killed so far today across Syria:

38 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its suburbs, 36 in Daraa; including 5 martyrs as a result of shelling of Tafas and 9 field executed in a refugee camp, 18 in Aleppo, 12 in Hama; including 4 martyrs in Kafr-Zeita and 3 in Helfaya, 8 in Idlib, 5 in Deir Ezzor and 4 in Homs.

See our note on the casualty figures published by the LCC.

While Damascus was focused on Yarmouk, things continued to escalate in both Hama and Daraa. According to sources, the Free Syrian Army is now making a concerted push into Hama province. Likewise, fighting has continued to increase in Daraa province, but those advances are being responded to by more raids, more arrests, and more patrols by both regime security forces and "shabiha."

1630 GMT: According to Reuters, hundreds of Palestinians have fled across the border into Lebanon after the Yarmouk camp was bombed yesterday, killing at least 25.

A Reuters witness at the border said they came in buses and cars piled high with belongings. A Lebanese security source said the refugees from Damascus' Yarmouk Camp suburb had tried to flee on Sunday but the road was blocked by fighting.

A video reportedly shows refugees fleeing in cars, buses, and on foot:

1605 GMT: Like most Syrians, the average person just wants to avoid being killed. Over the last two days there have been a steady stream of reports that people are trying to take advantage of lulls in the violence to flee the Yarmouk Camp in Damascus. However, with so many suburbs already engaged in fierce fights, and with every major city in central Syria facing a similar fate, where will these people go?

Another report - these buildings match the architecture of the Yarmouk camp:

1552 GMT: For several weeks we've been tracking reports that Assad forces stationed at the Mezzeh airport in Damascus (map) have fire Type-63 and/or GRAD rockets at positions around the capital. A new video, uploaded today, is being shared by activists and claims to show a rocket attack on the Yarmouk Camp (see previous updates). This visually matches the Mezzeh airport, and the weather is correct:

1538 GMT: In a video posted yesterday, the head PR officer for Syrian intelligence, Alaaddin al-Sabbagh, defected from the Assad regime.

‘I urge the officers from different security services, ambassadors, ministers, delegates, diplomats and military attaches whom I taught and know me very well to join the revolution.”

“The Syrian revolution is open to everyone before the regime collapses completely. The regime today is clinically dead. Long Live Syria, free.”

1530 GMT: According to Reuters, Syrian troops and tanks have massed outside of the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus (map). Naharnet has this flash report (40 minutes old, no further details):

Rebel military council of Damascus: The headquarters of the PFLP-GC in the Yarmuk camp has been stormed.

We're not sure what exactly is happening yet, but the fighting in the Yarmouk camp is a disturbing development. For weeks skirmishes have been fought here, occasionally breaking into fierce battles. But now, it's possible that things are escalating into a street-by-street, house-by-house battle for control of the district. It is this kind of intense conflict that is new to Damascus, and it could spread.

Interestingly, the Free Syrian Army brigades appear to have been avoiding this kind of battle just yet. So far, much of the fighting has been a constant ebb and flow in the suburbs, characterized by ambushes, sudden advances, and quick retreats. Though these battles have been highly effective, the FSA clearly does not have the strength to capture and hold the capital. However, the Palestinian groups on both sides have nowhere to go, and so the escalating tensions may have finally brought an Aleppo-style warfare into the capital.

It's too early to tell if the regime will be able to storm the area and pacify the streets, but this is a concerning development as this area of southern Damascus is a high-density, at risk population, and it appears to be trapped in the middle of Syria's war.

James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us to the afternoon.

1245 GMT: Turkish media report that Ankara has a "new formula" which envisages the departure of President Assad by March.

Under the plan, the Syrian National Coalition, established last month, would lead a transitional authority. A "more disciplined" Free Syria Army would head a "clear military hierarchy".

In September, Turkey considered a plan under which Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa would be leader during the transition.

On Sunday, al-Sharaa was quoted by a Lebanese newspaper as saying that the regime could no longer hope to defeat the insurgency and calling for discussions for a national unity government.

1015 GMT: Al Jazeera English's Zeina Khodr reports on Alawite residents leaving a village in Idlib Province, fearing the entry of insurgents into the area:

1005 GMT: Back from a media break to find the allegations of a defected colonel that President Assad personally gave orders to “oppress civilian demonstrations by all available means", including murder.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Colonel Enad al-Abbas, the Ministry of Interior official in charge of writing reports based on data collected from police headquarters in Syria's 14 governorates, said that a report was delivered to Assad’s personal office just after midnight every day.

Abbas said that comments on the reports were sent back to the ministry around 3 a.m. with directions to “oppress the demonstrations by all means". When police chiefs from across the country asked about the practical meaning implied by the order, they were told by Minister of Interior Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, “It means by all means, including murder".

0525 GMT: The Local Coordiating Committees claim 183 people were killed on Sunday, including 60 in Damascus and its suburbs, 45 in Aleppo Province, and 32 in Hama Province.

0515 GMT: Regime aircraft have bombarded a district of Damascus for the first time in the Syrian crisis.

The warplanes intervened in the fighting in Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in the southern part of the capital. Reports, supported by video, indicated that missiles hit a mosque sheltering people who had fled violence in Damascus suburbs, killing at least eight people.

The Local Coordinating Coordinated said 15 people were killed in the camp on Sunday, while other activists claimed a toll of 25.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Ahmed Jibril, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, had fled the camp. The pro-regime PFLP has controlled Yarmouk, but has been under increasing pressure from insurgents and a pro-opposition Palestinian brigade. Activists that there have been scores of PFLP defections amid almost two weeks of clashes.

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