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Syrian regime sends more troops to Damascus suburbs, shells rebel strongholds near the capital

Syrian activists say regime forces are firing rockets and mortars at suburbs around the capital, Damascus, amid heavy clashes with rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.

The activists say troops backed by tanks are heading to Daraya and Moadamiyeh — two key suburbs southwest of the capital from where rebels have been edging closer to the city.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the military is massing troops and will likely try to storm the two suburbs. Both areas have been subjected in the past to repeated government assaults.

The Local Coordination Committees network confirmed the shelling and clashes.

Fighting around Damascus and the international airport a few miles south of the city has intensified recently as rebels press on closer to the Syrian capital.