UPDATE 1-Syrian army takes control of Damascus suburb-opposition

Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:17pm IST

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AMMAN Aug 24 (Reuters) - Syrian troops backed by tanks entered the centre of Daraya, a town on the southwest edge of Damascus, on Friday after three days of heavy ground and helicopter bombardment, opposition activists said.

Hundreds of troops and dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles were seen on al-Thawra street in central Daraya, taking control of the sprawling suburb as a core group of Free Syrian Army fighters pulled out, several activists said by phone from the Syrian capital.

Daraya, which has a population of a quarter of a million, is one of a series of mostly poor Sunni Muslim suburbs that surround Damascus and have been at the forefront of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite.

"The rebels have mostly slipped away. The fear now is that the army will round up young men and summarily execute them, as it did in Mouadamiya," activist Abu Kinan said from Daraya.

He was referring to a nearby suburb where residents reported the summary execution of at least 40 people earlier this week after troops stormed it in pursuit of rebels.

Killings were also reported in other areas of Damascus stormed by Assad's forces, including the Qaboun district where at least 46 people were killed on Wednesday, Jdeideh in the west and Nahr Eisha in the south of the capital earlier this month.

The reports by activists and residents could not be verified independently because of restrictions by Syrian authorities on non-state media.

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