News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Shell Damascus Outskirts; Phone Services Resume

VOA News
Syrian forces shelled the outskirts of Damascus Saturday, as the country's telephone and Internet services resumed after a two-day blackout.

Activists reported airstrikes, artillery fire and clashes in towns and villages near a main road leading to Syria's international airport.  

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 14 rebels were killed close to a military base southwest of Damascus during government shelling the observatory said could be intended to establish a secure perimeter around the capital.

Analysts say the Syrian regime is trying to establish a perimeter around Damascus to be in a position to negotiate a solution to the 20-month conflict.

The intense fighting took place a day after Syrian forces launched a major offensive near the Damascus airport.

Meanwhile, U.S.-based firm Renesys that monitors online activity reported a "largely complete restoration" of Internet services in Syria by early Saturday.

Syria's state news agency, SANA, confirmed that all Internet and mobile phone lines were back up in Damascus.  

The government and rebels have blamed each other for cutting the lines. The Internet blackout was unprecedented in the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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