Beirut - The Syrian army bombarded southern districts of the capital and suburbs overnight as part of an assault aimed at driving rebels out of footholds around Damascus, a monitoring group said on Monday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said artillery gunners targeted the districts of Hajar al-Aswad and Tadamun as well as the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk in southern Damascus.
The army also bombarded Yabrud to the north, Yalda to the south and the Eastern Ghouta towns of Douma, Harasta, Irbin and Haran al-Hawamid, in the area of the road linking Damascus to its international airport, it said.
Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have been trying to establish a secure perimeter around Damascus at all costs, turning the province into one of the main battlegrounds in the country's 20-month conflict.
Analysts say the objective of the military campaign is to put the regime in a position to negotiate a way out of the conflict that the Observatory says has cost more than 41 000 lives since March 2011.
The Britain-based group also reported clashes with rebels since Sunday in the central town of Hama, prompting authorities to send in reinforcements.
"This fighting... shows that despite the total control of the army and security forces over the town, the rebels have still managed to infiltrate," the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The watchdog, which relies on a network of activists and medics in civilian and military hospitals, said a total of 134 people - 58 civilians, 41 soldiers and 35 rebels - were killed in countrywide violence on Sunday.