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Syria air strikes near Damascus

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Syria's air force carried out air strikes on rebel enclaves near Damascus on Thursday, while clashes pitted rebels against troops in the north of the capital, a monitoring group said.

Warplanes also struck villages in the northwestern province of Idlib, rebel-controlled Raqa in the north, Hasake in the northeast and Daraa in the south, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Helicopters, meanwhile, strafed several targets in the Eastern Ghouta area, east of Damascus, a rebel stronghold and scene of intense battles in past months.

Thursday's violence comes a day after an army takeover of the town of Otaybeh, east of Damascus, which the Observatory said "opens the gate for the army into the Eastern Ghouta area".

Warplanes also struck Moadamiyet al-Sham and Daraya, southwest of Damascus, where the army has for several months tried to crush the insurgency.

Rebels have used areas east and southwest of Damascus as rear bases and as gateways into the capital.

The Observatory also reported fierce clashes pitting troops against rebels in the flashpoint Barzeh district of northern Damascus, which rebels have infiltrated from the east.

Elsewhere, warplanes struck Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, as well as several villages in the Hasake and Daraa countryside.

In Raqa province, fighter jets struck an area near a sugar factory, while "fierce clashes pitting troops against rebels raged near army Base 17", near the provincial capital.

Rebels have had the base under siege for several weeks.

Although rebels have controlled the provincial capital Raqa since March, troops holed up in the base have held out.

On Wednesday, at least 138 people were killed in violence across Syria, the Observatory said. Among them were 44 civilians, 59 rebels and 35 troops.

rd/ser/hc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/syria-air-strikes-near-damascus