Syria hits capital suburbs as rebels advance

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BEIRUT -- Syrian government warplanes and artillery pounded restive suburbs of Damascus Friday and anti-regime activists said a car bomb targeted an intelligence building north of the capital.

Fighting in Syria's civil war has flared in areas around Damascus as rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad try to push into the city itself. The rebel advances in the suburbs threaten the government's grip on its seat of power, prompting a punishing response from the military on rebel areas skirting the capital.

Anti-regime activists circulated a video they said showed an explosion near a military intelligence office in the town of Nabk, north of the capital. They had no information on casualties, and the government did not comment on the bombing.

The blast came one day after a car bomb hit a gas station in the capital itself, killing 11 people, activists said. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, they could be guerrilla strikes by rebel groups who lack the force to battle Assad's troops in the capital.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that government warplanes bombed suburbs of the capital, including Douma, where twin airstrikes killed more than a dozen people a day earlier.

The Observatory also reported the explosion near the military intelligence building in Nabk, some 50 miles north of Damascus.

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