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Syrian troops attack rebel areas around Damascus

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July 19, 2012, 1:24 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Associated Press

This a satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe of the Qabun neighborhood in Damascus, Syria was acquired July 18, 2012.
© AP

Associated Press

Associated Press

BEIRUT — Anti-regime activists say government forces are shelling a number of neighborhoods in and around the capital Damascus a day after a bomb killed three members of President Bashar Assad's inner circle.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported shelling in number of areas Thursday. It says residents are fleeing parts of the Mezzeh neighborhood after troops surrounded it and clashed with local rebels.

The group says rebels damaged one helicopter and disabled three military vehicles.

Wednesday's bombing targeted a high-level crisis meeting, killing the defense minister, his deputy, who is Assad's brother-in-law, and a former defense minister. Other officials were wounded.

The whereabouts of Assad, his wife and his three young children remain unknown.

The attack could mark a turning point in Syria's 16-month crisis.

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