Fierce fighting erupts in Syrian capital Damascus after rebel attack

Rebels and allied jihadists, led by former al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, launched an attack early Sunday on government positions in east Damascus, initially scoring gains.

Members from Ahrar al-Sham, the recently formed jihadi umbrella group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS) were reportedly among the opposition fighters.

Syrian warplanes are heavily striking the rebel positions in eastern Damascus as the ground forces succeeded to besiege the the rebel positions in the battle field and now working on eliminating them, the source added on condition of anonymity.

Government forces responded with almost a dozen air strikes on Jobar, he added.

"The bombardment is on all fronts. there is no place that has not been hit. the regime has burnt the area by planes and missiles", said Abu Abdo a field commander from Failaq al-Rahman brigade.

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Government forces have escalated military operations against Eastern Ghouta in recent weeks, seeking to tighten a siege on the area.

Sunday's attack, in which insurgents used tunnels they control in northeastern Damascus neighborhoods to hit government positions, appears to have caught the Syrian military off guard.

"This neighbourhood is the most important front line because it's the closest rebel position to the heart of the capital", said Abdel Rahman.

The rebel factions managed to sustain fighting late into yesterday afternoon, when they were still attacking buildings in the industrial estate between the rebel-held suburbs of Jobar and Qaboun.

After initial advances by the rebel alliance, the assault was halted by regime counter-offensives and artillery.

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Rebels and government troops agreed to a nationwide cessation of hostilities in December, but fighting has continued across much of the country, including in the capital.

Beyond shelling and airstrikes, the government has offered "reconciliation" deals in certain rebel-held areas in a bid to stem the violence. Despite this, it is clear the rebels are able to carry out strikes against the capital, as they did this week.

Infantry and tank reinforcements arrived on the government side to repel the attack in the afternoon, the group said.

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