Damascus - AFP - March 12, 2012
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on March 17, 2012, shows Syrian fire fighters at the scene of two bomb attacks on security buildings in Damascus. Photo by AFP
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At least 80 people were killed in heavy clashes Monday between the opposition Free Syrian Army rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad on the outskirts of Damascus, activists said.

"Some 50 members of the government forces were killed, among them an officer," Haytham al-Abdullah, an activist in Damascus told dpa.

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A resident in the capital said Monday that a heavy deployment of government troops was taking place across the capital. "The city looks like a barracks," he said.
A resident of Mazzeh district says automatic rifles and machineguns were used in the two-hour clash that ended at about 4 a.m. local time Monday.

Armed rebels are active in Damascus' suburbs and satellite towns but rarely venture into the heart of the capital where President Bashar Assad's troops are deployed in force.

An activist in the capital said the clash occurred near the Political Security Directorate building.