Five people have been killed in a shoot-out between police and militants in the centre of Damascus.
It happened in the Ummayid Square, as they tried to break in to the TV/Radio building.
The square is also home to the national library and the Sheraton hotel. The other main international hotels – the Meridian and the Four Seasons – are just meters away.
Officials later seized 10 US-made rifles saying that they had been supplied by “neighbouring country to carry out sabotage attacks against vital targets and national interests”. They didn’t say which country, but Syria has recently said that weapons were entering Syria from Lebanon.
Tishrin, a Syrian newspaper, said the weapons were meant “to send an urgent message to the leadership and the people of Syria to realise the dangers of … confronting projects that are hostile to Syria and the Arab nation.”
Four of the dead were militants and the fifth was a police officer. It comes two years after militants tried to break into a building in the same square.
There have been a number of clashes between Muslim militants and government forces in the past couple of years – and a long history of tension. It’s thought the people behind this attack were ‘takfiris’ (Sunni extremists).
Past attacks have come from Jund Ash-Sham, formed by extremists linked to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi (Al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq). In March, Jund Ash-Sham commander Mohammed Ali Nasif was killed near Damascus.