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Syria regime, opposition battle outside Damascus

March 19, 2017 at 11:01 am

Smoke rises after the Assad Regime carried out airstrikes in Damascus, Syria on March 8, 2017 [Diaa Al Din / Anadolu Agency]

Syrian forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad battled opposition groups on the fringes of Damascus earlier today in ongoing battles, after the insurgents against the Assad dictatorship launched an attack from the east of the heavily fortified capital, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the army and allied forces, likely to be Iran-backed Shia jihadists, had engaged in heavy clashes with fighters in the Jobar district, at the eastern edge of Damascus.

Insurgent groups attacked government positions in the area, including with two car bombs, in an attempt to storm their defence lines, the Britain-based Observatory said.

The district stands between Damascus and the besieged opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta in the suburbs, which government airstrikes have battered in recent weeks.

Warplanes pounded the Jobar area today in an attempt to box in the fighters, while shells fired by the opposition hit several nearby districts in Damascus, including Bab Touma, Rukn Al-Din and the Abbasiyin area, the Observatory said.

Syrian state television said the army was fighting to repel an attack by militants in Jobar.

Sounds of shelling and gunfire could be heard in Damascus since the morning, a resident said.

The offensive by the opposition in Jobar could be an attempt to stave off the Assad regime’s near continuous assaults on the Eastern Ghouta.

In light of the beginning of the deportations and evacuations in Homs’ Al-Waer district, opposition-held territories fear that they will also be forced out to Idlib province in northwestern Syria. The military offensives launched by fighters near the Eastern Ghouta would indicate that they want to make any such eventuality as costly as possible to the Assad regime.

Read: Syria civilians, opposition begin to evacuate Homs