Last updated Saturday, March 25, 2017 3:49 pm GMT+8

Monday March 20, 2017
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People remove rubble while looking for survivors at a damaged site after an airstrike on rebel-held Idlib city March 19, 2017. — Reuters picPeople remove rubble while looking for survivors at a damaged site after an airstrike on rebel-held Idlib city March 19, 2017. — Reuters picBEIRUT, March 20 — Heavy air strikes pounded rebel positions in east Damascus today, a monitoring group said, as Syrian government forces pushed back a rebel assault.

“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 have retaken the initiative and are striking the groups that launched yesterday’s assault,” he added.

Rebels and allied jihadists, led by former al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, launched an attack early yesterday on government positions in the eastern district of Jobar before advancing into the neighbouring Abbasid Square area.

It was the first time rebels had penetrated the Abbasid Square neighbourhood in two years, but government forces had forced them back by nightfall.

AFP correspondents in eastern Damascus could hear warplanes circling above the city this morning and said activity in Abbasid Square was returning to normal levels.

Abdel Rahman did not have an immediate toll for today’s strikes and could not specify whether the raids were carried out by Syrian government warplanes or allied Russian aircraft. — AFP

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