Assad's forces push to retake Damascus suburb

By REUTERS
December 31, 2012 13:57

 
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AMMAN - Heavy fighting raged on the outskirts of Damascus on Monday as elite troops backed by tanks tried to recapture a strategic suburb from rebels in one of the largest military operations in that district in months, opposition activists said.

Five people, including one child, died from army rocket fire that hit Daraya, the activists said. Daraya is one of a series of interconnected Sunni Muslim suburbs that ring Syria's capital and have been at the forefront of the 21-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"This is the biggest attack on Daraya in two months. An armored column is trying to advance but it being held (back) by the Free Syrian Army," said Abu Kinan, an opposition activist in the area, referring to a rebel group.

He said that tens of thousands of civilians had fled Daraya during weeks of government assault but that 5,000 remained, along with hundreds of rebels. Daraya is located near the main southern highway leading to the Jordanian border 85 kms to the south.

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