Syrian warplanes pound rebel-held Damascus

Smoke billows following a reported air strike in the rebel-held parts of the Jobar district on March 19. Pic/AFP
Smoke billows following a reported air strike in the rebel-held parts of the Jobar district on March 19. Pic/AFP

Beirut: Syrian warplanes hammered opposition-held neighbourhoods of Damascus yesterday after regime forces pushed back a surprise assault that saw rebels try to fight their way into the city centre.

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 key gains.But forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad drove them back by nightfall and began a fierce bombing campaign yesterday morning.

"There have been intense air strikes since dawn on opposition-held positions in Jobar from which the offensive was launched," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"The government and allied forces…are striking the groups that launched Sunday's assault," he added. He said it was unclear whether regime forces or their Russian allies were carrying out Monday's raids on Jobar.

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