Syrian troops clash with rebels

Around 2,000 Syrian troops backed by tanks launched an assault to retake Damascus suburbs from rebels yesterday, activists said, a day after the Arab League suspended its monitoring mission in Syria because of worsening violence. They said 19 civilians and rebel fighters were killed as the soldiers in armoured personnel carriers moved in at dawn, along with at least 50 tanks and other armoured vehicles. The forces of President Bashar al-Assad pushed into the Ghouta area on the eastern edge of Damascus to take part in an offensive in the suburbs of Saqba, Hammouriya and Kfar Batna.