Clashes erupt in Syrian capital's streets: residents
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Fierce gunfights between security forces and rebels broke out on Friday on the streets of the Syrian capital, Damascus, residents and activists said, an increasingly common occurrence in a city formerly considered a bastion of presidential control.
Residents of the Mezze neighborhood said they were hiding in their homes as gunfire crackled outside, and one resident said "The gunfire is so loud I think some bullets could have hit the house, I'm afraid to go outside to see what is happening."
In the early stages of the 15-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Damascus remained firmly under government control as Assad's forces tried to crush opposition in other parts of the country.
But in recent months shooting and bombings have erupted in several neighborhoods.
On Friday, activists uploaded photographs of gunmen in armored vehicles rolling down the streets of the capital's Kafr Souseh district, pointing long rifles over the top.
Other activists posted a video, said to be from Mezze, showing black clouds of smoke rising from between concrete buildings as the sound of gunfire rattled in the background.
They said Free Syrian Army rebels were attacking a security forces barracks in the district, and security forces had sent in busloads of plainclothes militia men, called 'shabbiha', to help them fight the rebels.
Earlier on Friday a car bomb exploded in the Qadsiya suburb of Damascus, killing at least two security forces personnel, activists said.
Rebels who have joined the revolt against four decades of Assad family rule said earlier this week they would no longer observe a ceasefire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan and backed by the United Nations.
Since then, fierce clashes have erupted between the rebels and state forces.
(Reporting by Erika Solomon; editing by Tim Pearce)
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