Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. Russia and China have done it again. For the third time the two countries have vetoed a United Nations resolution on Syria. The measure would have imposed more sanctions on the Syrian government if it did not pull its troops out of populated areas. Also today Syrian state TV showed President Bashar al-Assad swearing in a new defense minister. It was Assad's first public appearance since yesterday's bombing in Damascus which killed his previous defense chief as well as his brother-in-law. Meanwhile it seems that fighting continues in and around the Syrian capital. That's what one activist who calls himself Tareq told us earlier.
Tareq: I'm in an area that overlooks all Damascus. Smoke rising up in the sky from the south and from the east from an area called [INAUDIBLE]. That area has been under heavy bombardment since morning. We've heard that medical staff there just fled the area because they lack the medical equipment so they can do nothing for the wounded people there. Outskirts of Damascus also was under heavy shelling from helicopters. Yesterday at night we had horrific narrations of a massacre perpetrated in an area called [INAUDIBLE]. There was a funeral procession going on and a helicopter launched [INAUDIBLE] over on the funeral. More than 100 people were killed and more than 200 are injured.
Werman: Tell me what information you've been able to hear on Syrian TV.
Tareq: The Syrian TV is living in a very strange state of denial. A couple of hours ago they said, nothing is happening on the ground so don't believe anything. Don't believe the rumors that the military is, for example, withdrawing from the southern parts of the city. A lot of lies are going on on TV.
Werman: I'm curious to know how you reacted to yesterday's attack on Assad's inner circle. The opposition got critically close to Assad's control of power. How did you feel when you heard that news?
Tareq: We were happy to hear that, of course. At the same time we were fearful of any action of retaliations made by the regime itself or by its militia. Actually yesterday in the evening we've heard some narrations that some armed militias went into the areas in the south that have been under bombardment with knives and they tried to perpetrate massacres there. They got into one of the areas and they killed some civilians but in other areas the Free Syrian Army faced them and just stood in their face. Damascus today is living a very strange situation. Now the streets are almost empty. People are getting their food, they're storing some food because no one knows how long this fight might take. Today the bakeries are crowded; some of them are closed because they don't have wheat. There is lack of some basic materials and food. People are optimistic and at the same time they are fearful of the losses they we might face until we get our goals fulfilled.
Werman: Given how empty the streets are right now, Tareq, how you biding your time? Are you staying inside? Do you have anybody around you? Are you alone in an apartment?
Tareq: For me I'm staying with my family and some other families also inside our houses. People in the southern part of the city were forced to flee the areas because of the heavy bombardment so we took them into our houses and we're trying to find some empty houses to get them inside. The humanitarian situation is really bad. Every now and then I go out to the streets just to see the situation or I just look at the city from above to see how things are going on. Beside that we have our own network of reporters. Each one tells us what he sees or what she sees in her own or his own area.
Werman: The violence has been seemingly slow to build in Damascus throughout the uprising over the last 16 months or so. Now that you're in the thick of some pretty violent conflict there in the capital how has it effected your resolve in the fight?
Tareq: That's the tricky part of Damascus. You will find the city living normally till the last minute when everything will just explode. What's happened really on Friday the military forces waged an attack on [INAUDIBLE] militia and before that on the Palestinian's camps. The Free Syrian army found themselves forced to defend the civilians and the residents of those areas so it turns to what we see today as the big battle. We're not sure if this will be the final battle but of course I can say that we hope this is the end and that we will be in a free Syria very soon.
Werman: An activist calling himself speaking Tareq speaking with us from Damascus.