BEIRUT - Clashes between state forces and rebels shook suburbs around the Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday in what activists said was the heaviest fighting there since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began 15 months ago.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces and armored vehicles stormed the neighborhood of Barzeh, an opposition foothold in the capital, and there were sounds of heavy gunfire.

The revolt against Assad's rule has become increasingly violent in response to an army crackdown. Fighting is now reported regularly in Damascus, once considered a bastion of Assad support.

The British-based observatory has a network of activists across Syria. It said explosions echoed through the suburbs of Dumar and Qudsiya on Tuesday.

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