Death toll in weekend clash
near Damascus rises to 42

The death toll in air raids and fighting in a town near Damascus at the weekend has risen to 42, a watchdog said Monday, after regime forces retaliated for a rebel attack on army positions.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 20 rebels had died around the town of Rouhayba, northeast of the Syrian capital. The other victims comprised regime forces and civilians, including four children.


The fighting broke out at dawn on Sunday and lasted throughout the day, with regime warplanes launching air strikes on Rouhayba and clashes taking place just outside the town.


According to the Observatory, which collates information from a network of activists and medics, more than 110,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011, including at least 40,146 civilians.


Compounding the chronic violence, hundreds were killed in an alleged poison gas attack on August 21 that some Western and Arab countries have blamed on the regime of Bashar al-Assad -- a claim it denies.


US President Barack Obama decided on Saturday that he would seek the approval of Congress before launching any military strikes on Syria aimed at punishing the regime over the suspected attack.

The fighting broke out at dawn on Sunday and lasted throughout the day.