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Times reporter Patrick J. McDonnell on the mood in Syria's capital

Times reporter Patrick J. McDonnell on the mood in Syria's capital
An image made available by the official Syrian Arab News Agency shows government soldiers taking up position during a May patrol in Duma, a suburb of Damascus. (SANA / EPA)

The Times' Beirut bureau chief, Patrick J. McDonnell, is currently in Syria, where he has been reporting on the mood in Damascus after two years of grinding conflict.

As he reported in Friday's paper, "The thud of military artillery rounds still resounds in the capital, and ubiquitous checkpoints clog the traffic. The threat of car bombs and mortar rounds from rebels based in nearby suburbs is constant."

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And yet, as he told Foreign Editor Mark Porubcansky, the city retains a veneer of normalcy with traffic and people filling the streets.

Supporters of President Bashar Assad were talking of victory when McDonnell met with them in Mazzeh Jabal 86, a gritty urban neighborhood festooned with testimonials to the "martyrs" lost fighting for the government.

Residents there believe a turning point was reached with the capture of Qusair, which had been a rebel logistics hub for more than a year before it was overrun this week by the Syrian army and allies from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Listen to their conversation below. Do you have questions for McDonnell? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet your questions to @latimesworld using the hashtag #Syria.

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Twitter: @alexzavis

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