Middle East

Syrian activists report gunfire near capital

Jan. 27, 2012: Syrian army defectors stand guard on a rooftop to secure an anti-Syrian regime protest in the Deir Baghlaba area in Homs province, central Syria. Armed forces loyal to President Bashar Assad barraged residential buildings with mortars and machine-gun fire, killing at least 30 people, including a family of women and children during a day of sectarian killings and kidnappings in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, activists said Friday.

Jan. 27, 2012: Syrian army defectors stand guard on a rooftop to secure an anti-Syrian regime protest in the Deir Baghlaba area in Homs province, central Syria. Armed forces loyal to President Bashar Assad barraged residential buildings with mortars and machine-gun fire, killing at least 30 people, including a family of women and children during a day of sectarian killings and kidnappings in the besieged Syrian city of Homs, activists said Friday.  (AP)

Syrian activists report hearing gunfire and explosions in suburbs of Damascus as the country's conflict moves ever closer to the capital.

Monday's reports by the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group, could not be independently confirmed.

On Sunday, Syrian troops in dozens of tanks and armored vehicles stormed rebellious areas near the capital, shelling neighborhoods that have fallen under the control of army dissidents and clashing with fighters.

Activists and residents said at least 62 people were killed in violence nationwide.

The widescale Sunday offensive suggested the regime is worried that military defectors could close in on Damascus, the seat of President Bashar Assad's power.