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Syrian activists say government troops battling rebels on southern outskirts of Damascus

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, newly arrived Syrian refugees wait for their turn to receive mattresses, blankets and other supplies, and to be assigned to tents, at the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, near the Syrian border with Jordan. In the bustling marketplace of this sprawling camp for Syrian refugees, a mosque preacher appeals to worshippers to join their countrymen in the fight to topple President Bashar Assad. In another corner of the Zaatari camp, two men draped in the Syrian rebel flag call on refugees through loudspeakers to sign up for military training. Rebels in the camp freely acknowledge recruiting fighters in the camp in a drive that has increased since the summer. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, newly arrived Syrian refugees wait for their turn to receive mattresses, blankets and other supplies, and to be assigned to tents, at the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, near the Syrian border with Jordan. In the bustling marketplace of this sprawling camp for Syrian refugees, a mosque preacher appeals to worshippers to join their countrymen in the fight to topple President Bashar Assad. In another corner of the Zaatari camp, two men draped in the Syrian rebel flag call on refugees through loudspeakers to sign up for military training. Rebels in the camp freely acknowledge recruiting fighters in the camp in a drive that has increased since the summer. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)  (The Associated Press)

Activists say clashes have flared up between Syrian troops and rebels on the southern outskirts of Damascus as part of a weeks-long government push to advance on opposition-held areas.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says fighting is underway around the rebel-held Hejeira suburb on Tuesday.

The Observatory also says clashes are taking place near the government-controlled Sayyida Zainab neighborhood, known for a famous Shiite shrine.

The Observatory and a spokeswoman for a Damascus Syrian rebel council says Shiite fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are fighting alongside Syrian government forces in the two neighborhoods. The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for her safety.

Government troops and pro-Assad fighters have seized four other nearby neighborhoods in recent weeks.