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Syrian Activists Report Massacre Near Damascus

Activists in Syria say the bodies of at least 200 people have been found in a town close to Damascus.

Activists claim they were killed by government forces, with most killed at close range, including some women. The added on August 26 that the bodies were found in houses and basement shelters in Daraya after an assault by the Syrian army.

Opposition activists say that brings the death toll from a government offensive on Daraya to 270.

"Our heroic armed forces cleansed Daraya from remnants of armed terrorist groups," the official state news agency said.

Due to restrictions on the media, it was impossible to verify the account.

State television said Daraya was being "cleansed of terrorist remnants."

Speaking during a meeting with an Iranian delegation in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad pledged to defeat what he described as a “foreign plot being waged against the country.”

The opposition Syrian National Council on August 25 called on the United Nations and the Arab League to intervene to prevent a "catastrophe" in the besieged central province of Homs, which has been cut off by Syrian government forces for weeks.

Meanwhile, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa has made his first public appearance since the middle of July, putting to rest rumors that he had defected and fled the country.

Journalists saw Sharaa get out of his car and walk to his office to meet with the visiting head of Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Borujerdi. He did not speak to reporters.

Sharaa was last seen on July 18 at a funeral for top officials killed in an explosion in Damascus.

Rumors spread that Sharaa had abandoned the Syrian government and fled to neighboring Jordan, something both Sharaa's office and Jordanian authorities denied.

Based on reporting by dpa, AFP, AP, and Reuters

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