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Two killed by mortar fire near Damascus opera house -state media

Source: Reuters - Sun, 6 Apr 2014 12:55 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with additional fighting throughout the country)

BEIRUT, April 6 (Reuters) - Two people were killed and eight wounded when mortar fire hit the grounds of the Damascus Opera House in the Syrian capital, state media said on Sunday.

Government forces were also battling rebels in Damascus' outskirts including the eastern suburb of Mleiha, where government war planes carried out air strikes during heavy fighting with insurgents on Sunday.

"Two citizens were martyred and eight others wounded ... by mortars fired by terrorists at the opera house ... in Damascus," a report on state news agency SANA said on Sunday. It did not say exactly when the attack occurred.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces are in control of central Damascus but rebels have been able to launch mortar and rocket attacks into the city's centre, sometimes hitting heavily-secured upscale districts and embassy grounds.

On Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said a mortar round fell near the Russian embassy in central Damascus, and two more rounds landed near a security building. No casualties were reported.

The Observatory, which monitors violence through a network of sources in Syria, said at least five people were killed, including three children, in the Damascus suburb of Douma during shelling by government forces.

Elsewhere, government helicopters dropped barrel bombs in the northern province of Aleppo, Deraa in the south and Latakia in the west as fighting raged across the country.

Assad's forces also shelled the area around Kasab, a village in the north of Latakia province which rebels seized about two weeks ago.

Late Saturday, two fighters from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, were killed in the eastern Hasaka province during fighting around the town of Markadah with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al Qaeda splinter group, the Observatory said.

Syria's three-year-old conflict has killed more than 150,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes.

(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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