Clashes in Syria's Damascus after surprise rebel attack

Clashes in Syria's Damascus after surprise rebel attack

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.

The rebels have been suffering a constant succession of defeats for the past 18 months, as Syrian government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, together with their allied Russian, Iranian and Shi'ite militia allies conducted relentless assaults against them.

"In their assault yesterday, rebels were able to open a road for several hours between Qabun and Jobar, but the area is now a front line and they can no longer cross between the two", Abdel Rahman said.

Sunday's fighting centered on government-held territory between the Jobar and Qaboun neighborhoods, two besieged opposition enclaves.

Control of Jobar - which has been a battleground for more than two years - is divided between rebels and allied fighters on one side, and government forces on the other.

"After a major advance by opposition fighters, the regime got over its shock and began a counter-offensive", he said. Sunday's incursion, however, was the most serious since 2012, when rebels captured several Damascus neighborhoods before being crushed by government forces.

Free Syrian Army factions and allied jihadist groups were involved in the attack on government-controlled Jobar and Abbasid Square, only 1.2km (0.7 miles) north-east of the Old City.

Syria's war : Forced evacuations begin in Al Waer
The fighters and their families are being taken to the northern rebel-held town of Jarablus on the border with Turkey. Al-Waer is the last neighborhood in the city of Homs where armed groups still spread, imposing a siege on the locals.

"I think it really was in the calculus of the rebels that they want to make it known that they are still going to resist the regime, that they are still going to fight, despite the very heavy losses that they have experienced", he said.

"These are not intermittent clashes - these are ongoing attempts to advance", he said.

Abdel Rahman said retaliatory government air strikes and shelling of the rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta east of Damascus killed 13 civilians.

On Sunday, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to destroy Syria's air defence systems after they fired ground-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011.

Repeated peace talks over the years have failed to bring about a political solution to the conflict.

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