The Free Syrian Army extended its hold over the eastern half of Ghouta, an agricultural belt surrounding Damascus to the south and east, on Saturday as heavy fighting raged in several areas in and around the capital.
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It was also reported that the Syrian regime is expanding its use of widely banned cluster bombs.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Syrian forces have dropped at least 156 cluster bombs in 119 locations across the country in the past six months, causing mounting civilian casualties.
Rebels in Aleppo (Photo: MCT)
The regime denied that it is using cluster bombs, but the report said that two strikes in the past two weeks killed 11 civilians, including two women and five children.
Cluster bombs open in flight, scattering smaller bomblets. They pose a threat to civilians long afterwards since many don't explode immediately. Many countries have banned their use.
Human Rights Watch said it based its findings on field investigations and analysis of more than 450 amateur videos.
Earlier on Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the CIA has started gathering intelligence on Islamist extremists in preparation for potential drone strikes.
US officials claim that the Counterterrorism Center, which is responsible for running the CIA’s secret program for drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, has recently ordered a group of targeting officers to improve intelligence collection on Syrian militants who could pose a terrorist threat.
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