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Syrian forces raid Damascus, opposition cities despite outcry

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
(Reuters) - Syrian government forces attacked the opposition strongholds of Homs and Hama on Wednesday and also raided a district of Damascus in the closest military operation to the capital's centre since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out 11 months ago.

Elite forces backed by armored personnel carriers erected roadblocks in main streets of Damascus' residential Barzeh neighborhood, searched houses and made arrests, witnesses said.

Residents said they were looking for opposition activists and members of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which has provided armed protection for protests against Assad in the district.

Government forces also mounted an offensive in Hama, a city with a bloody history of resistance to the 42-year Assad dynasty, firing on residential neighborhoods from armored vehicles and anti-aircraft guns, opposition activists said.

Artillery also shelled Sunni Muslim neighborhoods in Homs, the 13th day of their bombardment of a city that has been at the forefront of the uprising.

The attacks indicated Assad's determination to crush the revolt despite international efforts, spearheaded by Arab nations, to make him cease the bloodshed.

For full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/15/us-syria-idUSL5E8DB0BH20120215