Six soldiers were also killed when a roadside bomb detonated near the bus they were traveling in south of the capital. The escalation in violence on Sunday coincided with the Arab League’s suspending of its observer mission. Activists inside Damascus told Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught that tanks had rolled into Al-Ghouta, within 10km of Damascus city centre.
"People we've spoken to are too frightened to leave their homes, they've locked themselves in," our correspondent said from Istanbul in Turkey.
Al-Ghouta is historically known for being a hub of dissent against the Assad government, and the crackdown appeared to be an attempt "to avoid any Tahrir Square-style mass movements," she said.
Four people have been killed in Sunday’s fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
(Reuters) The growing power of a rebel army has seen control of the Syrian capital of Damascus split between rival gunmen fighting for or against President Bashar Assad.
Two days of bloody carnage in which at least 74 people have died has come as the rebel force - the Syrian Free Army - steps up its mission to take control of the streets from government forces.
'We had a big battle here earlier this month,' a Damascus schoolteacher, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, told The Times.
'For the past 11 days this has been free Syria. All they can do now is cut the electricity and the water an disrupt the phone. It just goes to show how weak they are. The head of Arab League observers in Syria said in a statement that violence in the country has spiked over the past few days.'
No go area for government soldiers: A Syrian soldier, who has defected to join the Free Syrian Army, brandishes a rifle and waves a Syrian independence flag in the Saqba istrict of Damascus
Caught in the middle: Boys hold toy weapons as they protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs
Checkpoint: A soldier from the Free Syrian Army secures a street as the rebel force closes off sections of the Damascus to government soldiers
Martyr: Syrians carry the coffin of Mazen abou Dhahab who was killed in a protest in Damascus
Anti-Russian sentiment is running high among rebel fighters because they believe Putin's government is preventing regime change in Syria, reviving Assad, as pictured in this creative protest banner