Heavy explosions rock Syria's two largest cities
Heavy explosions have rocked Syria's two largest cities as heavy fighting between government forces and rebels continues. The warring sides are struggling to gain an advantage in the country's bloody conflict. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 70 people have been killed so far Saturday, including 47 unarmed civilians.
Syria's civil war has intensified in recent weeks as rebels focus on the country's two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.
Government forces pounded the neighborhood of Tadamon, on the southern outskirts of Damascus, trying to uproot one of the last rebel-held areas there.
The Ministry of Information took media to a site in the Damascus suburb of Yalda on Saturday, where they claimed to have discovered evidence of civilian bloodshed.
A Syrian army officer said, "The Army forces followed the armed groups to where large numbers of the terrorists were killed. Others were arrested and a third party ran from the area."
The fighting in Damascus appears likely to drain the army's resources as fighting stretches into its second week in Aleppo, 350 kilometers to the north.
The state-run SANA news agency says troops clashed Saturday with armed insurgent groups in three neighborhoods of Aleppo, leaving scores dead or injured.
It also says the authorities rounded up a number of the armed men.
A pro-government Facebook page says authorities successfully countered an attempt by armed insurgents to cut off the road to the Aleppo airport.
SANA also confirmed earlier reports that a number of Iranian Shiite pilgrims were kidnapped Saturday by what it calls armed " terrorist" groups. It says the authorities are handling the situation.
[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 05Aug12]
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