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WORLD
October 25, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
ANTAKYA, Turkey - Syrian government forces killed more than 40 rebels in an ambush in a strategic region east of Damascus, the official news agency said Friday, as fierce clashes were reported outside the capital. Also, state-run television said Abu Mohammed Jolani, the leader of Al Nusra Front, or Jabhat al Nusra, a group of Islamist fighters, was killed in Latakia province. The report could not be confirmed. Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders, an international aid group, reported that more than 100,000 civilians had fled in recent weeks from the town of  Safira, southeast of the battleground city of Aleppo, amid heavy bombardment and fighting in the area.
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WORLD
December 2, 2012 | By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times
BEIRUT - Fierce clashes and heavy government bombardment were reported Sunday on the outskirts of Damascus as the Syrian military pressed an offensive aimed at securing the capital and its vulnerable international airport. Syrian warplanes and artillery pounded rebel-held positions to the south and east of the capital, opposition spokesmen said, continuing a pattern of heavy strikes that has continued for at least four days. The government appears intent on creating a security cordon around the capital and along the road to the nation's international airport, where flights were interrupted last week because of clashes along the main airport road - which skirts several rebel-dominated districts.
WORLD
August 23, 2012 | By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times
BEIRUT - Syrian forces on Thursday renewed attacks against rebel strongholds in the nation's two largest cities, highlighting the determination of President Bashar Assad's government to crush resistance in Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo. For a second consecutive day, opposition activists said, the military used mortars and airstrikes in Daraya, a suburb south of Damascus, the capital. "They are shelling it at an insane pace," said Moaz Shami, a Damascus-based activist.
WORLD
February 16, 2013 | By Rasha Elass, Los Angeles Times
DAMASCUS, Syria - Somewhere between the Christian and historical Jewish quarters of Old Damascus, labyrinthine alleys lead to a nondescript cobblestone tunnel that opens onto an Ottoman-era home, one of this ancient capital's many boutique hotels. Inside, across a courtyard and along the basalt stone wall, several young artists and musicians sit beneath a tangerine tree chatting and smoking a hookah, or water pipe. One strums a setar , a three-string lute indigenous to the region.
WORLD
June 14, 2012 | By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times
MOSCOW - News stories on Syria in many parts of the world often focus on reports of government assaults against insurgents and civilian populations. In Russia, hardly a day passes without media relaying the official line from Damascus: that "terrorists" and foreign powers are to blame. Russian television and newspapers routinely carry headlines and teasers such as "Saudi Arabia and other countries supply arms to Syrian rebels," "Bashar Assad: Foreign countries are to blame," and "Hypocrisy kills like bullets.
WORLD
June 6, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
DAMASCUS, Syria - After two years of grinding conflict, they are talking victory in Mazzeh Jabal 86, a gritty urban hillside where narrow alleys are festooned with jury-rigged electrical cables and testimonials to the "martyrs" lost fighting for the government of President Bashar Assad. Televisions were tuned Thursday to images of troops advancing through the rubble of Qusair, which had been a rebel logistics hub for more than a year before being overrun this week by the Syrian army and allies from Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
WORLD
July 16, 2012 | By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times
ANTAKYA, Turkey - Armored vehicles patrolled the streets of the Syrian capital's historic Midan quarter. Shelling and gunfire rattled the southern neighborhood of Tadamon. Protesters burned tires to block major roads. The Syrian uprising, which grew from the nation's provinces, appears to have come to Damascus in earnest during the last two days. Opposition activists have called the clashes on Sunday and Monday in Damascus the heaviest fighting to date in President Bashar Assad's seat of power.
WORLD
April 21, 2013 | By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times
BEIRUT - Syrian government security forces and paramilitaries killed dozens of people, many of them civilians, in a five-day battle for a Damascus suburb, rebel activists and a pro-opposition nongovernmental organization said Sunday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, considered close to the opposition, said at least 80 people had been killed in the fighting in Jdeidat al Fadel, a suburb of Damascus, the capital. The British-based organization said the dead included three children, six women and 71 men, of whom 19 were fighters.
WORLD
July 30, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
DAMASCUS, Syria - A chaotic passageway through blasted walls, blood-spattered floors and bullet-pocked rooms leads to the narrow stairway where a teenager pokes his Kalashnikov rifle into a sliver of light slicing through the sandbags. "If we don't protect our camp, who will?" asked 18-year-old Yehya from his perch on a landing, keeping watch on crumbling apartment blocks and debris-laden streets outside. The battle for Damascus, the capital, has become a brutal fight for the suburbs.
WORLD
January 29, 2012 | By Patrick J. McDonnell and Rima Marrouch, Los Angeles Times
Syrian tanks and troops moved Sunday to crush resistance in the rebellious suburbs of Damascus, opposition groups reported, bringing the bloody battle that has ravaged the nation for months to the doorsteps of the nation's capital. The fierce fighting reported outside Damascus was the latest sign that Syria's armed insurgency — long concentrated in provincial hotbeds of revolt like Homs, Hama and Dara — has now reached the edge of the city from which the Assad family has ruled Syria in autocratic fashion for more than 40 years.
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