Blasts rock Damascus; rebels down helicopter

More bodies found at massacre site: watchdog

A Syrian combat helicopter crashed in Damascus on Monday, state television said, as fierce fighting reportedly gripped the east of the capital a day after the regime was accused of a new massacre.

A series of explosions rocked the city from about dawn and a watchdog reported heavy shelling and fighting between government troops and rebels in several eastern and northeastern districts and nearby towns.

State television said the chopper came down near a mosque in Qaboon, but gave no further information, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it believed it "was hit while it was being used in fighting nearby."

Helicopter gunships were shelling the neighbouring district of Jubar, where anti-regime sentiment is strong, the Observatory said, and reported heavy fighting between the rebel Free Syrian Army and government troops.

There was no immediate comment from the FSA, which claimed to have shot down a Syrian warplane on August 13 in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. The assault on the northeast of the capital was unleashed a day after opposition activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of gruesome new massacre in the southwestern town of Daraya.

The Observatory said hundreds of bodies had been found in the small Sunni Muslim town after what activists described as brutal five-day onslaught of shelling, summary executions and house-to-house raids by government troops.

Meanwhile, at least 14 more bodies have been found in the town of Daraya near Damascus after activists reported a gruesome “massacre” there in a five-day assault by regime forces, a watchdog said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had reported yesterday the discovery of 320 bodies in Daraya after what opposition militants said was a brutal onslaught of shelling, summary executions and house-to-house raids by government troops.
The Local Coordination Committees — a network of activists on the ground — described the killings as a “massacre” by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

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