'Intense' strikes pound east Damascus after rebel assault

Smoke rises after the Assad Regime carried out airstrikes in Damascus Syria

Smoke rises after the Assad Regime carried out airstrikes in Damascus Syria

State news agency SANA said Syrian government troops were targeting rebel bases around Jobar on Monday.

Army units were able to regain on Sunday, the areas captured by the rebels in their push, a source from the Syrian military told Reuters Monday.

"The government and allied forces have retaken the initiative and are striking the groups that launched yesterday's assault", he added.

The Observatory said the rebels had initiated the attack to relieve pressure on fighters under attack from government forces in the districts of Barzeh, Tishreen and Qabun.

Meanwhile, Syrian state TV and the Observatory reported that an airstrike in the country's north - said to be by the USA -led coalition, which has been targeting the IS group in Syria for more than two years - had killed at least seven people, including five members of the same family.

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The fighting killed at least 26 government soldiers or allied fighters and 21 rebels, Abdel Rahman said, but he did not have an immediate toll for Monday morning's raids.

The assault began early on Sunday with auto bombs and suicide attacks, and secret tunnels were also used. Control of Jobar - which has been a battleground for more than two years - is divided between rebels and allied jihadists and government forces.

The Islamist Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group and the Fateh al-Sham Front - known as Al-Nusra Front before it renounced its ties to Al-Qaeda - have a presence in Jobar.

Syrian state TV aired footage from Abbasiyn Square, typically buzzing with activity but now empty except for the sound of shelling.

The clashes come just days before a fresh round of UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva that aim to put an end to Syria's six-year war, which has claimed more than 320,000 lives.

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The incursion into Abbasid Square, though brief, was the first time in approximately two years that rebels had got that close to the heart of Damascus.

The army had advanced towards a road between Qaboun and Barza, whose capture severed the links between the two besieged rebel districts where tens of thousands of people live.

"After a major advance by opposition fighters, the regime got over its shock and began a counter-offensive", he said.

"They're spread too thin and this has allowed rebels to advance".

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