Syrian forces bombard rebel positions on the outskirts of Damascus

Digest for international stories for week Mar 11- Mar 17, 2017

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 UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the violence began "with two auto bombs and several suicide attackers" in the Jobar district in the east of the city.

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

But with Sunday's attack, Abdel Rahman said, "rebels have shifted from a defensive position in Jobar to an offensive one".

Activists said opposition-held parts of Jobar had been targeted repeatedly by aircraft and artillery, amid fierce clashes along the frontlines.

The clashes centered on a government-held gap between two besieged opposition enclaves, the Jobar and Qaboun neighborhoods.

Syria's army "regained control of all the points that terrorists" had infiltrated on Sunday, Syrian state TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying on Monday.

While the strategic objective of Sunday's offensive is unclear, observers say a possible goal was breaking the government's siege of Qabun.

The attackers utilized numerous guerilla warfare techniques, including auto bombs, suicide attacks and the use of secret tunnels.

Syria's state news agency SANA reported that government forces repulsed the attack by "terrorists" on military positions and residential buildings in Jobar and inflicted unspecified casualties on them.

The military killed and injured a number of the Takfiris, destroyed two of the attackers' explosives-laden vehicles, and stopped them as they tried to make an inroad into the district through underground tunnels.

Al Jazeera reports that the Russian Air Force has done 45 sorties on the neighborhood of Jubar on the eastern side of the city since this morning.

The rebel offensive was launched in the Jobar district of eastern Damascus, and was led by Islamist groups including Ahrar al-Sham and the recently formed umbrella jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

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