Fierce clashes and government shelling have been reported in the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Damascus, as the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's government continues.

Government forces shelled several suburbs of Damascus on Tuesday, with security forces also carrying out raids in the capital, anti-government groups said.

In Aleppo, "fighting broke out between government forces and rebel fighters in the [southwestern] districts of Saif al-Dawla and Salaheddin", the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

The army had advanced on Saif al-Dawla on Monday after last week retaking neighbouring Salaheddin, where small pockets of rebel fighters remain.

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Government forces have also pounded the rebel-held districts of Sakhur, Hanano and Shaar in Aleppo's east, the UK-based SOHR said.

The pro-government Al-Watan newspaper said the army "has deployed but a fraction of its troops... to control Salaheddin, whose liberation is just one step towards the control of the rest of the areas under the influence of the insurgents".

"Army units continue to encircle the city and block the insurgents' supply lines," the paper said.

Al-Watan said the army would attempt to use a strategy that would "avoid casualties among civilians, who have been used as human shields by the insurgents".

Damascus fighting

In the capital Damascus, residents fled the Qaboon neighbourhood, after security forces raided the Midan and Shaghur districts on Tuesday, the SOHR said.

According to a journalist with AFP news agency, security forces also swept the southeastern district of Tabbaleh, while the army set up checkpoints at the entrances to Midan and closed off streets to traffic.

Outside the city, government forces shelled the suburbs of Qudsaya and Daraya, while elsewhere in Damascus province, a civilian and a defecting soldier were killed in al-Tal town, the SOHR said.

The opposition Syrian National Council described al-Tal as a "disaster area" after five days of shelling and urged "all able citizens" to provide aid, especially food and medical supplies.

In Muhasen, in the eastern Deir al-Zor province where rebels claimed they downed a fighter jet on Monday, fierce clashes broke out, according to Local Coordination Committees, a network of anti-government activists on the ground.

Source: Agencies