This citizen journalist image made from video provided by Shaam News Network which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels celebrating the takeover of Mayadeen military base near Deir el-Zour, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. Syrian rebels strengthened their hold in an oil-rich strategic province bordering Iraq, capturing a key military base that was considered the last bastion for regime forces in the area. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say Syrian troops have shelled southern neighborhoods of the capital as they try to advance in rebel-held areas.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the shelling of Tadamon and Hajar Aswad came as government troops conducted raids in the central Damascus neighborhood of Bab Sreijeh.
The violence came as Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani arrived in Damascus on Friday. He is expected to meet President Bashar Assad.
Iran is Assad's strongest ally in the region.
Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with an uprising against Assad's regime, inspired by other Arab Spring revolts. The crisis has since morphed into a civil war. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the unrest, according to activists.