Syrian army retakes Damascus areas captured by rebels

Since then it has been trying to break down rebel resistance in Damascus and reassert full control of the capital after six years of war. "We have fire control over the Abassiyin garages and began storming it", Wael Alwan, spokesman of rebel group Failaq al-Rahman, told Reuters.

Since early Sunday, elements of the so-called Levant Liberation Board, a coalition led by former al-Nusrah, have attacked military points with vehicle bombs and launched mortar shells at various areas of the Syrian capital.

Witnesses said tanks had been deployed in neighbouring areas with the sound of mortars continuing late into the night.

The Syrian army recaptured all areas fallen during Sunday's wide-scale offensive by rebels in eastern Damascus, the military general command said Monday.

Syrian state TV aired footage from Abbasiyn Square, typically buzzing with activity but now empty except for the sound of shelling.

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

Almost half a million people have been killed and half of the country's pre-war population has been displaced.

The government has been trying to pressure the rebels to surrender the pockets they hold in Damascus following victories in the northern city of Aleppo, the central city of Homs and other Damascus suburbs.

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Syria's air force responded with raids on opposition positions while rebels shelled the Abbasids and Tijara neighbourhoods near Jobar, a few kilometres (miles) from the city centre.

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

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

Sunday's rebel assault was their most important incursion inside Damascus in years.

The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched an offensive on Sunday that broke a four-year regime siege in the east of the capital Damascus.

Under such agreements, the government agrees to end bombardments and stop besieging towns in exchange for a rebel withdrawal.

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 on Friday.

Israel denied any planes were hit and said it was targeting weapons bound for Lebanon's Hizbullah movement, which is backing Assad in Syria.

  • Sidney Guerrero