Syrian tanks pound Damascus suburb, rebels fight back

AMMAN Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:40am BST

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian tanks shelled the rebel-held Damascus suburb of al-Mouadamiya, on Monday killing at least three people and wounding 20, opposition activists in the area said.

"The offensive began at 6 a.m. (3 a.m. British time). Tanks were dispatched from al-Mezze airport base and Brigade 555 from Somarieh and have now almost surrounded Mouadamiya," Haya, one activist, said by telephone, referring to nearby military bases.

The rebels had repelled at least one attempt by a tank unit to enter the southwestern suburb, the activist said.

Video footage posted on YouTube showed no movement in the streets of the large township of low-rise buildings, with the silence broken only by the sound of shelling.

Syrian troops entered Mouadamiya at the end of July after a two-day offensive in which more than 120 people were killed, according to residents and opposition activists.

But then, as in other areas around Damascus, rebels began to regain control after the army pulled out for missions elsewhere.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces counter-attacked against rebels who had seized chunks of the capital after a July 18 bombing killed four of the Syrian leader's top aides. Troops are still battling for control of Syria's biggest city, Aleppo.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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