Battles around Damascus have important implications for Syria's conflict, but Aleppo is likely to remain the central focus until either the rebels or government forces can sustain the upper hand.
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Yesterday was one of the deadliest days in Syria so far, with a human rights group reporting more than 300 people killed, including 14 in a high-profile rebel attack in the heavily fortified city of Damascus that has led some to wonder if fighting has shifted away from commercial hub Aleppo.
In a report released today, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that yesterday's 300-plus death toll included 55 people in the rural areas around Damascus and at least 40 more shot in the town of al-Dhiyabia near the capital, writes Reuters. Reuters adds that other activists put the al-Dhiyabia toll, reportedly the result of a massacre committed by members of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, as high as 107.
A new report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also released today, says that the conflict has displaced nearly 300,000 Syrian refugees, and will displace up to 700,000 by the end of the year.
The Syrian Observatory's tally also included 14 people killed in the twin bombing attack on Syria's military headquarters – and the following gun battle – in Damascus yesterday morning, about which new details and video have since emerged.