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Jihadist rebels launch massive assault in east Damascus

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The jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham launched a massive assault in the eastern part of Damascus today, striking the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) positions inside the Jobar District near the Al-Qaboun front, reported Al Masdar News (Syria, gov.).

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham began the assault by sending two SVBIEDs towards the Syrian Arab Army’s defenses before detonating a large tunnel bomb that could be heard all over Damascus.

Intense clashes broke-out following the tunnel bombing this morning, with most of the fighting concentrated on the Karash-Jobar axis.

Syrian Army sources report that the jihadist rebels have yet to make any significant gains at this front, despite the intensity of this attack today.

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Damascus Province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:
The violent clashes renewed between the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them against the Islamic factions in Jobar neighborhood at the eastern outskirts of the capital, and information about casualties in the ranks of both parties, also violent clashes are taking place between both parties in the front of the international highway in the vicinity of Qaboun neighborhood, accompanied by shelling by the regime forces on the clash areas.

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Heavy clashes rocked eastern districts of the Syrian capital on Sunday after rebels and militants launched a surprise assault on government forces there, a monitor and state television said, reported Middle East Eye (UK).

Rebels and allied militants, led by former al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, attacked government positions in the Jobar district and advanced into the neighbouring Abbasid Square area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

"They targeted government forces with two car bombs and several suicide attackers," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The Britain-based Observatory had no immediate information on casualties from the clashes.

Control of Jobar, which has been a battleground district for more than two years, is divided between rebels and allied militants on one side and government forces on the other.

Syrian state television reported that the army was "thwarting an attack by terrorists" with artillery fire and had ordered residents to stay inside.

It aired footage from Abbasid Square, typically buzzing with activity but now empty except for the sound of shelling.

Explosions heard
AFP correspondents in Damascus said army units had sealed off the routes into Abbasid Square and explosions could be heard across the city.

Several schools announced they would close through Monday, and many civilians cowered inside in fear of stray bullets and shelling.

According to the Observatory, the Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group and the Fateh al-Sham Front, known as al-Nusra Front before it broke ties with al-Qaeda last July, were present in Jobar.
'These are not intermittent clashes. These are ongoing attempts to advance'

- Abdel Rahman
"This neighbourhood is the most important front line because it's the closest rebel position to the heart of the capital," said Abdel Rahman.

Government forces have long sought to push the rebels out of the district because of its proximity to the city centre in Damascus.

But with Sunday's attack, Abdel Rahman said, "rebels have shifted from a defensive position in Jobar to an offensive one".
"These are not intermittent clashes. These are ongoing attempts to advance," he said.

The Observatory said rebels had launched the attack from Jobar as a way to relieve allied fighters in the nearby districts of Barzeh, Tishreen, and Qabun from government attacks.

"Nine regime forces and at least 12 Islamist rebels were killed" in those three districts over the past 24 hours, the Observatory said.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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