2012-01-29 16:49:01

Damascus offensive leaves dozens dead

Syrian soldiers killed 19 people in fighting to retake Damascus suburbs from opposition rebels Sunday, just one day after the Arab League suspended its monitoring mission because of mounting violence.

Around 2,000 soldiers, along with at least 50 tanks and armoured vehicles, moved at dawn into the eastern edge of Damascus, in a move to flush out rebels who had taken over districts just a few kilometres from President Bashar al-Assad's centre of power.

Activists have described the scene as urban warfare and said 14 civilians and five insurgents from the rebel Free Syrian Army were killed. Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby has left for New York where he will brief representatives of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to seek support for an Arab peace plan that calls on Assad to step aside after 10 months of protests.

Speaking shortly before he left Cairo for New York, Elaraby said he hoped to overcome resistance from China and Russia over endorsing the Arab proposals.

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