BEIRUT - Syrian security forces surrounded and raided a rebellious southern district in Damascus, arresting more than 100 people on Thursday, state television said, and opposition activists said several others were shot dead.

The campaign is the latest step in an effort by state forces to stamp out a presence in the Syrian capital of insurgents who are fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.

An activist in the Yarmouk district, where rebels have been hiding out in recent days, said tanks and soldiers had sealed all the entrances. Hundreds of soldiers were searching the area on foot and on trucks mounted with heavy machineguns.

"We are trapped here. Only children and older men or women can leave. Young men, who could be rebels or activists, and even young women, who could also be activists, are stuck inside," an activist called Abu Salam told Reuters on Skype.

"We are hiding in our homes. I am afraid to leave the house so I am sitting here waiting to see if they reach my street, if I will be arrested or shot dead," he said.

Yarmouk is an unofficial camp for Palestinian refugees. The densely populated, impoverished district in southern Damascus is packed with concrete buildings.

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