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In flashpoint Damascus suburb, security forces' absence proves brief

For a few days this week activists in Douma, a suburb just 10 miles from downtown Damascus, were able to take to the streets without fear of running into government troops. The protest pictured above took place on Tuesday, in the middle of this brief period of respite.

The Associated Press reports that regime forces pulled out of Douma late Sunday following intense clashes with anti-regime fighters. Activists told the AP that tens of thousands of people poured into the streets on Monday to mourn the deaths of 11 residents the previous day.

Early on Thursday government troops returned to Douma, the AP reported, entering the suburb from all directions. Activists said the soldiers were raiding homes and searching vehicles, and had met no immediate resistance.