Clashes in Damascus and near airport in Aleppo

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Associated Press

Posted on August 17, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 17 at 1:31 PM

BEIRUT (AP) — Activists are reporting heavy shelling and clashes in many areas of the Syrian capital, including districts that are believed to have pockets of rebels.

Syrian forces are also doing battle with rebels near the airport in the country's largest city, Aleppo.

The fighting in Syria's two main cities is demonstrating the regime's inability to suppress the rebels, despite the government's overwhelming firepower.

Syria's state media is reporting on the clashes near Aleppo's airport -- the first official acknowledgement that the fighting has moved near a strategic gateway to the city. Rebel footholds in the city have been the target of weeks of Syrian shelling and air attacks -- part of wider offensives by President Bashar Assad's regime.

Rebels have been driven from some areas -- but the report of clashes near the airport suggests that the battles could be shifting to new fronts.

In Damascus, one activist describes the shelling as "nonstop." He says gunners are firing from mountains overlooking the city.

Meanwhile, U.N. officials are shutting down their military observer mission, after failed international attempts to broker a cease-fire.

%@AP Links

133-v-28-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)--Fighting in Syria's largest city is spreading. More from AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo. (17 Aug 2012)

<<CUT *133 (08/17/12)>> 00:28

134-c-11-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)-"by Syria's military"-AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo reports there's intense fighting in Syria's largest city. (17 Aug 2012)

<<CUT *134 (08/17/12)>> 00:11 "by Syria's military"

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