Clashes in Syria after rebel assault

By  Agencies | Posted  20-Mar-2017

Smoke billows following a reported air strike in the rebel-held parts of the Jobar district, on the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on March 19, 2017. Heavy clashes rocked eastern districts of Damscus as rebels and jihadists tried to fight their way into the city centre in a surprise assault on government forces. Pic/AFP
Smoke billows following a reported air strike in the rebel-held parts of the Jobar district, on the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on March 19, 2017. Heavy clashes rocked eastern districts of Damscus as rebels and jihadists tried to fight their way into the city centre in a surprise assault on government forces. Pic/AFP

Beirut: Heavy clashes rocked eastern districts of the Syrian capital yesterday after rebels and jihadists launched a surprise assault on regime forces there, a monitor and state television said.

Rebels and allied jihadists, led by former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, attacked government positions in the Jobar district and advanced into the neighbouring Abbasid Square area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

"They targeted government forces with two car bombs and several suicide attackers," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said, adding that there was no immediate information on casualties from the clashes.

Syrian state television reported that the army was "thwarting an attack by terrorists" with artillery fire and had ordered residents to stay inside. It aired footage from Abbasid Square, typically buzzing with activity but now empty except for the sound of shelling.