(Reuters) - State forces and rebels were locked in heavy fighting in several areas outside Damascus on Tuesday, activists said, in the worst violence to hit the suburbs of the Syrian capital since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began 16 months ago.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy fighting near the Republican Guard headquarters in Qudsiya, and in the suburbs of al-Hama and Mashrou' Dumar, just 9 km (6 miles) outside Damascus.
Samir al-Shami, an activist in Damascus, said tanks and armoured vehicles were also out on the streets of the suburbs and some activists reported that one tank had been blown up.
The British-based Observatory, which has a network of activists across Syria, said security forces and armoured vehicles stormed the neighborhood of Barzeh, an opposition toehold inside Damascus, and there were sounds of heavy gunfire.
The revolt against Assad's rule has become increasingly violent in response to an army crackdown. Fighting is now reported regularly in Damascus, once considered a bastion of Assad support.