Battles Rock Damascus Province
Fierce battles pitting Syria's army against rebels rocked towns near Damascus on Wednesday as the regime renewed its campaign to suppress the insurgency around the capital, a watchdog said.
Army tanks pounded the rebel-held town of Daraya southwest of Damascus, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while fresh clashes broke out in Irbin, northeast of the city.
State television reported meanwhile that "two mortar rounds fell near the Faculty of Literature in Damascus", without elaborating.
Pro-regime daily Al-Watan ran a headline that read: "New attempt (by insurgents) to break security in the capital, hundreds of terrorists killed".
Using the regime's term to refer to insurgents, the newspaper said the army was locked in a bid to keep encroaching rebels out of Damascus on Tuesday night.
"In the northeastern entrance into Damascus, on the edges of Qabun district, there was a new bid to stage an incursion into the capital... but the attempt resulted in the death of more than 100 attackers who committed a kind of collective suicide," said Al-Watan.
Elsewhere, six rebel fighters were killed in fighting near the police academy in Khan al-Assal, said the Britain-based Observatory.
Clashes over the academy have raged for the past week, as insurgents have been attempting to seize one of the last regime bastions in the northern province of Aleppo.
Wednesday's violence came a day after at least 134 people were killed in violence across Syria, among them 52 civilians, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground for its information.