Syria: Army launch attack on Douma and Rastan amid claims of troop withdrawals [VIDEO]

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As Syrian troops have reportedly started withdrawing the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) claims that "a major operation" is under way in the Damascus suburb of Douma. Fierce clashes broke out between the rebels and members of the regular Syrian army, the Observatory say.

The town was also stormed by security forces as tanks and BMP invaded the area, the Local Co-ordination committees report. Assad forces burnt and shelled several shops after looting them. Sounds of explosions and intense gunfire were also heard throughout the city.

Clashes also erupted on the outskirts of Aleppo between the Syrian army and the rebels. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights report deaths amongst the Syrian regular army. Several civilians were also killed.

Regime forces shelled the town of Rastan sporadically since 7am this morning, which resulted in the death of 4 people, the LCCS say. At least 30 people have been injured according to the LCCS.

The Idlib province was also targeted. One person died and three people were injured due to the shelling in Khan Sheikhoun. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also report several casualties amongst members of the Free Syrian Army. The town of Hazano has also been shelled by the regime's army.

The LCCS say Assad forces tortured to death four businessmen after arresting them in the neighbourhood of Baba Amro during a raid. Their properties were set on fire.

As fighting and shelling continue raging in many cities across Syria, Kofi Annan's spokesman says the Syrian government claims it has begun withdrawing troops from some areas. Annan's spokesman said they are trying to verify the information before adding that the ceasefire is expected to begin no later than 48 hours after 10 April.

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