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Syrian troops advance in central city

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm •  Published: July 26, 2013

As the rebel leaders met at the United Nations, violence continued. In the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, a bomb exploded Friday evening, causing casualties, both the state-run news agency SANA and the pro-government television station Al-Akhbariya said. Neither the agency nor the station reported specifics about the attack. The blast went off in the same square where a car bomb exploded Thursday, killing 10 people and wounding 66.

Officials also said pro-government troops were advancing in battles with rebel forces in the now mostly empty Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. Clashes in the camp, which has mostly been under rebel control since last year, broke out earlier this week.

Since the start of the unrest, Syria's half-million Palestinians have struggled to remain on the sidelines but many were eventually split between pro-and anti-Assad groups. In particular, young Palestinian refugees joined the rebels in the fight against Assad's regime.

Thousands of the camp's residents have fled to escape the fighting and have gone to other areas in Syria or to neighboring Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nearly 150 soldiers were killed on Monday and Tuesday after rebels stormed and seized the village of Khan al-Assal on the southwestern edge of the northern city of Aleppo. He said 51 of them were shot dead after they were captured alive and surrendered to rebels.

The report could not be independently confirmed. Syria's official media does not release casualty figures for security forces and regime soldiers.

Also Friday, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that Polish journalist Marcin Suder, who was kidnapped in the rebel-held town of Saraqeb in Idlib province this week, likely was taken by a dangerous and radical group seeking ransom. Tusk told journalists that Suder's abduction "probably has the character of a robbery."

Suder was reporting from Syria as a freelancer, Suder's Polish agency, Studio Melon, said Wednesday.

Another photographer, Jonathan Alpeyrie, was released after being held for 81 days by a Syrian milita, the New York-based agency Polaris Images said in a statement Friday. Polaris said Alpeyrie, of New York, had been abducted in April while working in Syria's Yabrud region, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Damascus

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war, the U.N. now says, up from nearly 93,000 just more than a month ago.


Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Beirut, Cassandra Vinograd in London, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Monica Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.