Clashes erupt near Syrian capital

BEIRUT - Fierce fighting erupted between state forces and rebels in several parts of Syria on Thursday, activists said, including a town close to the capital Damascus, where an advance UN peacekeeping team was expected to arrive.
Explosions and heavy machine-gun fire rocked Douma, just 12 kilometers (8 miles) from the seat of government, activists from the Revolutionary Council of the Damascus Countryside said.
They said columns of smoke were spiraling from several buildings.
Syria has been struggling to suppress a year-long revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule that has turned from a peaceful uprising to, at least partly, an armed insurgency.
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