Heavy clashes rocked eastern districts of the Syrian capital on Sunday after rebel fighters launched a surprise assault on government forces, a monitor and state television said.
Steady shelling and sniper fire could be heard across Damascus on Sunday as rebel factions allied with former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham launched an attack on government positions in the city’s east.
The clashes centered on a government-held gap between two besieged opposition enclaves, the Jobar and Qaboun neighborhoods. The Ahrar al-Sham rebel group said fighters had “liberated” the area.
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Tahrir al-Sham – a umbrella group of rebels formed by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham last month – and the independent Failaq al-Rahman group also participated in the attack.
Syrian state media said the military had repelled an attack by one group after “terrorists” infiltrated through tunnels in the middle of the night.
Rebels detonated two large car bombs at 5:20am on Sunday close to the Jobar neighborhood. Tahrir al-Sham claimed responsibility for the attack.
Rebels then advanced into the nearby Abbasiyn Square area, seizing several buildings and firing a barrage of rockets into multiple Damascus neighbourhoods, according to Rami Abdelrahman of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Government forces responded with nearly a dozen air strikes on Jobar, he added.