Syrian rebels launch new offensive near Damascus
Syrian rebel factions launched a new offensive targeting regime positions on the eastern fringes of the heavily fortified capital at dawn on Sunday, rebel sources told The New Arab.
Syrian state television later reported that Syrian government forces were trying to push back the rebel groups
Sources on the ground told The New Arab the attack began when Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance of Islamist factions dominated by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (ex-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda affiliate) detonated two suicide car bombs near regime bases in Jobar, a suburb of Damascus.
Following the explosions, battles erupted between rebel forces and regime troops, the sources said. The battles are ongoing.
Other rebel factions including Failaq al-Rahman are simultaneously battling regime forces in adjacent districts close to the Damascus-Homs highway. Unconfirmed reports suggest rebels are in control of several points along the strategic thoroughfare.
The regime launched airstrikes on Jobar and al-Abassiyin districts in tandem with artillery shelling. Mortar shells reportedly fell inside the perimeter of the capital. No casualties were reported.
According to witness accounts, regime forces closed several main roads in the capital.
Jobar stands between Damascus and the besieged rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta in the suburbs, which government airstrikes have battered in recent weeks.
Rebels remain in control of several pockets around the capital, many of which are besieged by the Syrian regime forces and its ally Hizballah.
|Jobar stands between Damascus and the besieged rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta in the suburbs, which government airstrikes have battered in recent weeks.|
Six years of war
Siege tactics have been used by the Syrian regime in other areas – such as east Aleppo – in order to pummel and starve rebel forces and local communities into submission before negotiating settlement deals in its best interests.
The Syrian conflict began six years ago, when the Baath regime - in power since 1963 and led by Bashar al-Assad -responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.
The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.