Syria troops step up attacks on Damascus suburbs, say activists

Photo: Syria troops step up attacks on Damascus suburbs, say activists / Arab World

Syrian government troops Sunday intensified attacks on pro-rebel suburban areas of the capital, Damascus, reported opposition activists, dpa reported.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that President Bashar al-Assad's troops shelled the towns of Jassrin, al-Maleeha and Deir Sulaiman on the outskirts of Damascus, causing an unspecified number of casualties.

Clashes between al-Assad's troops and rebels were underway in the same area, added the organization.

State television said that troops had "eliminated" scores of rebels in a crackdown on the suburban areas of Damascus.

The broadcaster called the rebels "terrorists" with alleged links to al-Qaeda.

Fighting, meanwhile, continued between government forces and rebels in the vicinity of Damascus for the fourth straight day, said activists.

They reported explosions and a big fire in a nearby area, resulting in a power outage at the airport.

The violence has prompted several foreign airlines to suspend flights to and from Syria. The state-owned carrier is the only airline still operating at the Damascus airport.

On Sunday, EgyptAir said it will resume flights to Damascus and Aleppo airports on Monday after a three-day halt.

"The decision comes after coordination with the Egyptian embassy in Damascus and the EgyptAir office in Syria and asserting that security conditions are stable right now in Syria, especially on the roads leading to Damascus and Aleppo airports," the head of EgyptAir, Roshdy Zakaria, said in a statement.

Elsewhere, at least 15 civilians were killed and 24 injured in a car bombing in the central province of Homs, according to Syrian television.

The Observatory said residents of the district of al-Hamra, where the bombing had occurred, are opponents of al-Assad's regime.

At least 105 people were killed nationwide, mostly in Damascus and its suburbs, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a group of activists documenting violence on the ground.

News from Syria is hard to independently verify as authorities have barred journalists from restive areas since a pro-democracy uprising started in March last year.

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