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Syria Half million refugess (and counting). Rebels and army battle near Damascus. [View All]

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-11-12 11:23 AM
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Syria Half million refugess (and counting). Rebels and army battle near Damascus.
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By Dominic Evans

BEIRUT | Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:14am EST

(Reuters) - Syrian rebels clashed with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad near Damascus airport on Tuesday, battling for the capital's outskirts after 20 months of conflict which the United Nations said has driven half a million people from the country.


The mainly Sunni Muslim rebels have made military gains against the forces still loyal to Assad, many of them from Syria's Alawite religious minority. The rebels have seized military bases across the country in the last month and are starting to encircle the capital, where power cuts and food shortages are hurting residents bracing for winter.

"We are barely surviving," said a woman in the Midan district who would only identify herself as Umm Ahmed. She said she queued in vain from 6 a.m. until midday at bakeries which ran out of bread before she could buy any at the normal price, leaving her looking for supplies at much inflated rates.

"If I want to buy it on the street, the black market price is 150 lira (about $2) - three times the cost," she said. "We are living without electricity and water, and the food is very expensive."

Central Damascus has been suffering up to 12 hours of power cuts a day, residents say. Movement around the city, peppered with security checkpoints, is increasingly difficult and soldiers, security forces and local vigilantes are everywhere.

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