Heavy clashes in Syria near Lebanon border

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In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian military tank shells a neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, March 28, 2013. AP file photo

BEIRUT—Syria’s state-run media and opposition activists are reporting heavy clashes in the strategic central province of Homs near the border with Lebanon.

The SANA news agency says four key villages — Qadesh, Mansourieh, Saadiyeh and Radwaniyeh — have fallen under government control on Saturday. The villages are close to the contested town of Qusair.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says there are casualties on both sides in the fighting in the area, which has been engulfed in clashes for the past two weeks.

Regime troops last week captured a hill overlooking several towns in the area and the highway linking the capital, Damascus, with the Mediterranean coast.

On Thursday, government forces captured a town in the province and rebels seized a military base in the area.

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