Clashes Reported Near Damascus, as Syrian Opposition Calls for anti-Assad Protests

Syrian rebels attacked at dawn an army checkpoint in the suburbs of Damascus, sparking a clash between the two sides and heavy shelling in the surrounding area.

Syrian troops and opposition rebels clashed Friday near the capital Damascus, activists said, as opposition groups called for nationwide protests against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Rebels attacked at dawn an army checkpoint in al-Qaboon, in the suburbs of Damascus, sparking a clash between the two sides and heavy shelling on the nearby area of Arbeen, activist Haytham al-Abdullah told dpa.

Members of the rebel 'Free Syrian Army' gather inside their headquarters, March 22, 2012.

“Tanks were seen heading to the region and especially to the area of Harasta, in a move aimed at storming the whole region by (President Bashar) Assad thugs," al-Abdullah said.

The clashes could be heard across the capital since the early hours of the morning, witnesses said.

Using the slogan "Damascus we are coming," opposition websites called for fresh protests across the country.
In the northern province of Idlib, near the Turkish border, similar clashes erupted between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and regular troops in Maaret al-Nouman.

In Aleppo, government troops shelled the area of Azaz, while in the central province of Homs, the shelling continued on the areas of Bab al-Sibaa and al-Khalidiyeh, activists said.

Meanwhile, the opposition local Coordination Committee (LCC), which documents violence across Syria, said Thursday's death toll had reached 90, with most of the casualties reported in Homs and Idlib.

News out of Syria cannot be verified as independent journalists are banned from entering the country's restive areas.

The London-based Syrian observatory for Human Rights says more than 9,100 people have been killed since the start of the unrest a year ago.