AMMAN - Syrian government forces fired rockets into southern Damascus on Monday in what opposition activists called an indiscriminate bombardment to stop rebels opposed to President Bashar Assad advancing from the working class suburbs to the city center.
The activists said it was the heaviest bombardment in 40 days of air strikes and artillery shelling aimed at blunting the gains by rebels operating from the Sunni Muslim neighborhoods on the edge of the capital.
"Fighter jets hit what looked like specific rebel targets yesterday. Today the multiple rockets launchers are just making huge, random destruction," said Rami al-Sayyed of the Syrian Media Center, an opposition activists' organization monitoring Assad's crackdown on the 20-month revolt.
Opposition activists said rockets and bombs hit Hajar al-Aswad, al-Tadamun, and al-Qadam, from where the population has largely fled after the areas fell under the control of the rebel Free Syrian Army. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Rebels also said that Assad has begun pulling back some troops from the provinces to protect the capital.