DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Syrian troops have made advances in a strategic suburb of Damascus and been bombarding other areas around the capital today in a push to secure President Bashar Assad's seat of power as rebels make gains in the north.
A government official said regime forces have taken much of Daraya, an area on the edge of a major military air base just south of the capital. The area has been the site of heavy fighting for nearly two months, and anti-regime activists say dozens of people have been killed and tens of thousands uprooted from their homes.
Syria's pro-government media has reported that thousands of rebel fighters from an extremist group (Jabhat al-Nusra) have holed up in Daraya in preparation to storm Damascus.
The government advance comes a day after rebels and Islamic militants seeking to topple Assad took full control of an air base in northwestern Syria, and intensified their assault on a second air base and the international airport in the city of Aleppo, which includes a military base.