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Rights group: Syrian troops kill 8 near Damascus
Rights group says Syrian troops have killed 8 people in raid on Damascus suburb
By The Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) ' A human rights group says Syrian security forces have killed eight people in an attack on a Damascus suburb.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says residents of the southern Kanaker suburb tried to stop the advancing troops by throwing stones and closing roads with burning tires.

The group says Wednesday's raid also wounded a number of people who are being treated in mosques. It says the raid occurred after electricity and telephones were cut off in the area.

President Bashar Assad's regime has unleashed a brutal crackdown on the four-month-old uprising. Activists say more than 1,600 people have been killed. The government blames the unrest on terrorists and foreign extremists.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) ' Syria's state-run news agency says the government has endorsed draft legislation that would enable newly formed political parties to run for parliament and local councils.

The move is part of President Bashar Assad's promised reforms aimed at ending a four-month-old uprising against his rule. Protest leaders say they won't accept anything short of Assad's ouster.

The SANA news agency reported Wednesday that draft was approved by the Cabinet late Tuesday and will have to go before parliament where approval is likely. Assad's Arab Socialist Baath Party has been in control of parliament for four decades.

The Cabinet earlier paved the way for the formation of political parties.

Assad has coupled pledges of reform with a deadly crackdown on protesters.

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