Syrian Forces Retake Damascus Areas from Militants

The bombers, a Saudi and a Syrian, detonated their explosives-laden trucks against army positions on the eastern edge of the capital amid a barrage of artillery shells that landed in the heart of Damascus. "We have fire control over the Abassiyin garages and began storming it", Wael Alwan, spokesman of rebel group Failaq al-Rahman, told Reuters.

A Syrian military source said the army had recaptured "most of the positions" where rebels advanced on Sunday.

Russia's foreign ministry yesterday summoned Israel's ambassador over air strikes close to Moscow's forces near the historic Syrian city of Palmyra. The source said a group of rebels that had entered the area had been encircled and were "being dealt with".

A security government source, who requested anonymity, told dpa that the attack started with two vehicle bombings around 500 meters from the eastern edge of Damascus.

The clashes killed at least 26 members of the regime forces and 21 rebels and militants, Abdel-Rahman said.

Government forces have escalated military operations against Eastern Ghouta in recent weeks, seeking to tighten a siege on the area.

State-affiliated al-Ikhbariya TV said government forces had killed and wounded several "terrorists" and arrested several more.

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

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

One rebel commander told the Associated Press news agency they launched the assualt from Jobar as a way to relieve allied fighters in the nearby districts of Barzeh, Tishreen, and Qabun from government attacks.

The fighting comes only days before another round of UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva aimed at finding a political solution to Syria's six-year civil war.

Control of Jobar has been divided between moderate rebels, government troops, and jihadists for more than two years.

Israel rarely comments on such alleged strikes, either to confirm or deny them.

"This attack in Damascus will show other rebel groups it is capable of delivering results", she said.

Government jets pounded the areas behind rebel lines, according to footage released by opposition factions, and fighters scrambled between rubble and burning buses to take up positions.

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