Government forces batter rebel districts near capital
BEIRUT | Syrian troops intensified their bombardment of opposition-held areas around Damascus on Monday and besieged a rebel neighborhood northeast of the city, the latest in the government’s push to erase battlefield advances made by insurgents in March.
Airstrikes on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma killed at least 16 people, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The government’s siege of the Barzeh neighborhood came as President Bashar Assad’s forces work to expand their security belt around Damascus, his seat of power. After hours of fighting under the cover of airstrikes and intense bombardment, government forces and their allies captured Hafez Road, isolating key districts still in rebel hands.