Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen in the Qalamoun mountains north of Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA on December 27, 2013. REUTERS/SANA
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Syrian warplanes carried out 20 air strikes against the strategic rebel-held Yabrud area near Damascus on Wednesday, as the army escalated a campaign there, activists and a monitoring group said.Troops meanwhile captured Jarajir, a village near Yabrud and on the Lebanese border, a military source told AFP. He denied the army had launched a new offensive, however, saying it was carrying out "routine" operations. Located in the Qalamoun mountains, Yabrud lies near the Lebanese border and on the Damascus highway to the country's third largest city Homs, which has suffered some of Syria's worst fighting in the past three years.In Daraa in the south, air strikes against rebel areas killed 22 people, including 19 civilians, said the Britain-based Observatory.More than 136,000 people have been killed in Syria's nearly three-year war, and millions more forced to flee their homes.
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