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Warplanes bomb Damascus suburbs

BEIRUT — Syrian fighter jets on Sunday bombed ­Damascus suburbs in a government offensive to dislodge rebels from strategic areas around the capital, activists said, as clashes raged around army bases and airfields in the country’s north.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes were hitting towns and villages around the capital, while regime forces targeted other neighborhoods with artillery and mortars. At least nine people were killed when a shell hit eastern ­Ghouta district, the group said.

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Also Sunday, Turkish state media said Assad’s fighter jets bombed the Syrian town of Azaz near the Turkish border.

At least 34 Syrians wounded in the airstrikes were brought across the border to the Turkish province of Kilis for treatment, the state-run Anadolu agency said. Seven died of the injuries, the report said.

The Observatory said troops were battling rebels in the suburb of Daraya a day after government officials claimed the army had taken much of the strategic area, which lies on the edge of a major military air base southwest of the capital.

In northern Syria, government forces were fighting ­rebels over an air base and the international airport of the city of Aleppo. The airport includes a military base.

Syrian troops have been pushing since November to ­regain Daraya, which had a population of about 200,000 before the fighting. Thousands have fled the relentless ­violence, among more than 2 million Syrians who have been internally displaced during the civil war. At least half a million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries.

Because of Daraya’s strategic location, rebel control poses a particularly grave threat to the capital.

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