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Army mortar fire 'kills 14 civilians near Damascus'

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A picture released on June 2 shows smokes rising as a mortar shell hits a building in al-Hula in Homs province. Mortar fire by the Syrian army on the Mleha district southeast of Damascus killed at least 14 civilians, four of them children, a watchdog said on Friday.Shaam News Network/AFP/File

Mortar fire by the Syrian army on the Mleha district southeast of Damascus killed at least 14 civilians, four of them children, a watchdog said on Friday.

Thursday evening's bombardment came as troops press a months-old offensive in the suburbs of Damascus in a bid to clear the region of rebel rear bases, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At dawn on Friday, the army bombarded the rebel-held districts of Muadamiya al-Sham, southwest of the capital, and Yabrud and Rankus to its north, sparking clashes, the watchdog added.

Despite the army's efforts to regain full control of the Damascus region, the rebels remain firmly implanted in the suburbs where there are almost daily clashes.