June 19, 2013
Gunmen storm pro-Assad Syrian TV channel
Gunmen stormed a pro-government Syrian TV channel headquarters today, bombing buildings and shooting dead three employees, state media said, in one of the boldest attacks yet on a symbol of the authoritarian state.
President Bashar al-Assad declared late today that his country was "at war". US intelligence officials said the Syrian regime was "holding fairly firm" and digging in for a long struggle against rebel forces who are getting stronger.
The dawn attack on Ikhbariya television's offices, located 20 km (15 miles) south of the capital, as well as overnight fighting on the outskirts of Damascus showed 16 months of violence now rapidly encroaching on the capital.
Ikhbariya resumed broadcasting shortly after the attack, displaying bullet holes in its two-storey concrete building and pools of blood on the floor. One building had been almost completely destroyed.
"I heard a small explosion then a huge explosion and gunmen ran in. They ransacked the offices and entirely destroyed the newsroom," an employee who works at the offices in the town of Drousha told state media at the scene.
The Syrian media are tightly regulated by the Ministry of Information. Although Ikhbariya is privately owned, opponents of Assad say it is a government mouthpiece.