Syrian airstrikes kill at least 7 outside Damascus

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BEIRUT — Syrian airstrikes killed at least seven people in a suburb of Damascus on Friday, as government troops battled rebels in several districts along the eastern edge of the capital, activists said.

President Bashar Assad’s forces have been seeking for months to solidify its hold on Damascus by dislodging rebels from the towns and neighborhoods on the city’s fringes. The government has used twin tactics to achieve its aims: blockading rebellious areas to pressure them into submission and unleashing artillery and airstrikes on districts that refuse to bend.

One town that has held out is Mleiha, located just east of the capital in a largely agricultural area known as Eastern Ghouta. Early Friday, a series of government air raids targeted the town, killing at least seven people, said Ammar al-Hassan, an activist based near Mleiha.

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