Damascus clashes kill 13 regime fighters

UN alarmed at recent escalation in Damascus violence

DAMASCUS - Heavy fighting between the Syrian army and rebels has shaken several Damascus suburbs, leaving 13 regime fighters dead, a monitoring group said on Wednesday.
The forces, killed over a 24-hour period, included a general who was overseeing operations against the rebels in the northeast of the capital, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Clashes have been reported in the area for the past two weeks as government forces try to separate the rebel district of Qabun from two others, Barzeh and Tishreen.
The aim of the operation is to stop the movement of rebels and pressure them to sign a "reconciliation accord" similar to one struck in Barzeh in 2014, according to the British-based Observatory.
Heavy army bombardment hit the area on Wednesday.
The United Nations last month expressed alarm over escalating fighting in the Damascus area.
A local ceasefire was agreed between rebels and the regime in Qabun in 2014 but new violence has erupted in recent days.
At least 16 people were killed on February 18 when army shelling hit a funeral in the district, according to the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.
Two days later air raids on Barzeh killed seven people, including a woman and a child, the monitor reported.