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UN to hold key talks on resolution demanding Assad steps aside

The move comes as Syrian troops push further into Damascus suburbs, crushing pockets of resistance.

Anti-Syrian regime protestors hold up a Syrian army defector as they chant slogans during a protest in central Syria last night.
Anti-Syrian regime protestors hold up a Syrian army defector as they chant slogans during a protest in central Syria last night.
Image: STR/AP/Press Association Images

ACTIVISTS SAY SYRIAN  troops are crushing pockets of resistance on Damascus’ outskirts as they advance into suburbs previously held by rebel forces.

Today’s offensive comes hours before key U.N. talks over a draft resolution demanding President Bashar Assad step aside.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the British and French foreign ministers will be in New York to push for backing of the measure during talks at the United Nations.

“The status quo is unsustainable,” Clinton said, saying the Assad regime was preventing a peaceful transition and warning that the resulting instability could “spill over throughout the region.”

The draft resolution demands that Assad halt the crackdown and implement an Arab peace plan that calls for him to hand over power to his vice president and allow creation of a unity government to pave the way for elections.

Government forces yesterday regained control of most of the capital’s eastern suburbs after dissident soldiers briefly captured the territory last week.

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The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says “intense shooting” was heard in Zamalka and Arbeen as the tanks and troops advanced.

Meanwhile, army defectors gained full control of the central town of Rastan on Tuesday after days of intense clashes, according to a town activist who identified himself as Hassan. He refused to give his full name, fearing reprisals.

Syrian troops storm rebel strongholds near Damascus, 62 reported dead

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