Battles between government forces and opposition fighters raged in the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital and the city of Aleppo on Saturday, a monitoring group reported.
“The army has stepped up its assault on what is referred to as the Eastern Ghuta area, focusing on the outskirts of Barzeh in the capital, and nearby Harasta and Douma in Damascus province,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“The rebels have a strong presence there, and the army wants to root them out once and for all,” Abdel Rahman told AFP news agency.
At least 32 people have been killed across Syria by security force gunfire on Saturday, according to the Local Coordination Committees activist group.
Fighting was reported in a neighborhood in Rif Dimishq, or Damascus countryside, where a public execution of eight people was reported by the Syrian Media Center.
The Eastern Ghuta area of Damascus and its province is home to some of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s fiercest and best organized battalions, including Tajamo Ansar al-Islam.
On Wednesday, two car bombs struck an army headquarters in the heart of Damascus, and Tajamo Ansar al-Islam was the first FSA group to claim responsibility for the operation.
“The army is taking revenge against Damascus, and it is mainly the civilians who are paying the price,” said Damascus-based citizen journalist Matar Ismail.
“The situation here is very bad, especially in the eastern areas. And the regime is executing many men summarily.”
Meanwhile, fighting raged in several districts of Aleppo, where rebels launched on Thursday an all-out campaign to capture the northern city, which has been the scene of some of Syria’s fiercest violence since July 20, the Observatory said.
Battles broke out in the central Old City and eastern Arkub districts, said the Britain-based watchdog.
Residents of Suleiman al-Halabi, one of Aleppo’s main districts, reported finding an unknown number of abandoned corpses on the streets, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“People from Suleiman al-Halabi have reported finding many dead bodies, but they don’t know who they belong to,” Abdel Rahman said.
Saturday’s violence came a day after a total of 136 people were killed across Syria, according to the Observatory, among them 85 civilians, 20 rebels and 31 soldiers.
More than 30,000 people have died in violence since the outbreak of a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad in March last year that grew into an insurgency, after dissent was met with brutal repression by the regime.