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AFP

Syria troops storm
rebel town, NGO says

Syrian regime forces stormed a town in the central province of Homs on Thursday after days of fierce clashes with rebels, a monitoring group said.

 

State television said the army had "restored peace and security" to Al-Qariatayn.

 

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said regime forces had "stormed the town of Al-Qariatayn" after days of fighting.

 

"Now the army is searching the town and detaining people," he said.

 

The army has been pressing an assault on villages surrounding Homs city, dubbed "the capital of the revolution" by anti-regime activists.

 

Few enclaves remain in rebel hands today.

 

Regime forces have besieged rebel-held districts in Homs city for more than a year, shelling them daily.

 

President Bashar al-Assad's troops seized the former rebel stronghold of Qusayr in the province earlier this month, supported by fighters from Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

 

North of Homs city, the army has intensified its bombardment of rebel-held Rastan and Talbisseh.

 

On Thursday, the army renewed shelling the town of Houla, scene of a massacre last year, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists.

 

To the east, rebels maintain a presence in a handful of areas, among them Palmyra in the eastern desert.

 

"The army wants to secure a kind of moral victory by crushing Homs," Abdel Rahman said.

 

"Areas east of Homs city are important because they lie near Damascus province," he told AFP.

 

Activists in and near Damascus have reported daily bombing of rebel areas, and a major assault that has lasted more than a week against the Qaboon and Barzeh districts in the north and east of the capital.

 

Meanwhile, the army has captured parts of Barzeh, the Observatory said.

 

"Regime troops used mortars and rocket fire to target Qaboon," said the Syrian Revolution General Commission, another network of activists.

 

In southern Damascus, clashes raged around the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, said the Observatory.

 

Towns near Damascus held for months by opposition forces for months, such as Harasta, Zamalka and Douma, have been coming under intense fire, said the Observatory.

 

Clashes also raged in Rashidin district in the northern city of Aleppo, the Observatory said, days after a rebel attack aimed at taking regime-controlled areas of the city.

 

Syria's war has killed more than 100,000 people, the Observatory estimates.

Regime forces have besieged rebel-held districts in Homs city for more than a year, shelling them daily.