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Machine gun fire on streets of Damascus

SYRIAN security forces have clashed with gunmen in an area of Damascus which is home to embassies and senior officials.

A resident of Mazzeh district said automatic rifles and machine guns were used in the two-hour clash that ended at 4am local time.

Armed rebels are active in Damascus suburbs and satellite towns but rarely venture into the heart of the capital where President Bashar Assad's troops are deployed in force.

An activist in the capital said the clash occurred near the Political Security Directorate building.

The activist and resident, who spoke anonymously for fear of reprisal, had no immediate word about casualties.

Meanwhile, it's been reported that Syria imported nearly six times more weapons from 2007-2011 than in the previous five-year period, with Russia accounting for 72pc of the arms supplies to Assad's regime.

A report on global arms transfers by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute highlights how Moscow continues to provide Syria with weapons even as the US, the European Union and others impose arms embargoes due to the regime's violent crackdown on protesters.