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Syrian rebels and army troops clash at the outskirts of Damascus

Arab World Materials 27 March 2012 13:08 (UTC +04:00)
Heavy clashes raged between Syrian rebels and regular army troops throughout the night and into early Tuesday in areas along the outskirts
Syrian rebels and army troops clash at the outskirts of Damascus

Heavy clashes raged between Syrian rebels and regular army troops throughout the night and into early Tuesday in areas along the outskirts of Damascus dpa reported

The fighting could be heard throughout the Syrian capital.

"We could not sleep all night from the sound of machine guns and heavy shelling," a woman who lives near the area of Zabadani told dpa by phone. "These clashes were the heaviest," she said.

Activists said clashes took place in Douma, Zabadani, and Arbeen, all in the Damascus suburbs.

"The Free Syrian Army managed to destroy two tanks in the Damascus suburbs," activist Haytham al-Abdullah told dpa.

The Free Syrian Army is led by defectors who have joined the opposition since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad started in March 2011. The UN says more than 8,000 people have died since the unrest began.

In the central province of Homs, heavy shelling continued throughout the night upon the neighbourhoods of al-Khalidiyeh, Bab al-Sibaa and Old Homs, as well as upon the eastern part of Ghotta.

The opposition Local Coordination Committees (LCC), said Monday's death toll reached 95. Most of the dead were from Homs. It added that more than 225 people were wounded in the Homs shelling.

Activists posted online pictures of dead bodies of women and children who were killed in Homs shelling and were still on the streets.

"Most of the dead and wounded were trying to escape the Old Homs neighbourhood when they were targeted by the shelling of al-Assad's forces," activist Omar Homsi said.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights said in a statement that more than 70 per cent of the population of Saraqeb in north-west Idlib province had fled a government assault that began on Saturday. It had so far killed 18 civilians.

News coming from Syria cannot be verified, as independent journalists are still banned by authorities from entering restive areas across the country.

The continued violence came as UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, was due to hold talks with Chinese officials on Tuesday to discuss the Syrian crisis. China has, so far, been resistant to UN actions to apply significant pressure upon Syria to prevent the fighting.

The deeply divided Syrian opposition groups are scheduled to begin Tuesday "serious reconciliation" talks in Istanbul in a move aimed at showing a unified stand and to provide an alternative to al-Assad.

About 300 dissidents attended a meeting in Pendik Monday night, in a suburb on the Asian side of Istanbul.

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