by Maher al-Mounes with Maya Gebeily in Beirut
DAMASCUS, Syria – Syrian authorities forces clashed with rebels and hammered opposition-held areas of east Damascus on Monday, earlier than calm returned to the capital after a shock assault.
In the north of the nation, in the meantime, a Kurdish militia stated the Russian army is to coach Kurdish forces combating the Islamic State group.
Rebels and allied jihadists, led by former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, early Sunday attacked authorities positions in east Damascus, initially scoring positive factors.
But forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad drove them again by dusk and commenced a fierce bombing marketing campaign, a monitor stated, earlier than calm was restored on Monday afternoon in japanese Damascus the place outlets reopened and automobiles returned to the roads.
The weapons fell silent following what Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, termed “intense air strikes… on opposition-held positions in Jobar from which the offensive was launched”.
He couldn’t specify whether or not the raids had been carried out by Syrian or allied Russian warplanes.
Control of the district — which has been a battleground for greater than two years and is the closest rebel place to the guts of Damascus — is split between rebels and allied jihadists on one facet and authorities forces on the opposite.
Earlier Monday, regime forces clashed with rebel teams in an industrial zone between Jobar and Qabun, a besieged opposition-held district to the north.
“In their assault yesterday (Sunday), rebels were able to open a road for several hours between Qabun and Jobar, but the area is now a front line and they can no longer cross between the two,” Abdel Rahman stated.
A Syrian army source advised AFP the military had recaptured “most of the positions where rebels advanced yesterday”.
“The army foiled the armed groups’ plan to link the Jobar district with Qabun,” the source stated, including that “military operations in the area are ongoing”.
Rebels hit Russian embassy
Sunday’s rebel assault was their most essential incursion inside Damascus in years.
After seizing a number of buildings in Jobar, opposition fighters superior briefly into the neighbouring Abbasid Square space — the primary time in two years the opposition had damaged into that district.
Abbasid Square was returning to regular on Monday, AFP correspondents stated, as residents surveyed the harm from the newest clashes.
Inside the Abbasid Square bus station, which rebels managed to overrun for few hours on Sunday, a number of troopers curled up beneath a blanket to relaxation after hours of heavy combating.
Aircraft might nonetheless be heard overhead, however lots of the roads that had been sealed off by troops the day gone by had been reopened.
The clashes killed not less than 26 members of the regime forces and 21 rebels and jihadists, Abdel Rahman stated. He didn’t have a direct toll for Monday morning’s air strikes.
State information company SANA stated authorities troops had been focusing on rebel bases round Jobar on Monday.
“The military operations north of Jobar targeted the areas from which the terrorists set out, and a large number of them were killed,” it stated.
The company reported that opposition fighters on Sunday bombarded the Russian embassy compound within the capital’s Mazraa neighbourhood however that there have been no casualties.
New peace talks due
The Islamist Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group and the Fateh al-Sham Front — often known as Al-Nusra Front earlier than it renounced its ties to Al-Qaeda — have a presence in Jobar.
Syria’s battle erupted in March 2011 with protests in opposition to Assad’s rule however has developed over time into a fancy civil battle.
More than 320,000 folks have been killed and tens of millions extra have been displaced by the battle.
Repeated peace talks over time have didn’t deliver a few political resolution, however one other spherical of negotiations is because of start in Geneva on Thursday.
In latest months, the regime has sought to safe territory round Damascus with renewed offensives on besieged rebel cities together with native “reconciliation” offers.
The battle noticed a turning level when Russia intervened in September 2015 in help of the regime, permitting pro-government forces to regain important territory that they had misplaced to the rebels.
A spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) stated Monday that Russia’s army is to coach the militia which controls giant areas of northern Syria.
The YPG makes up the majority of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters that has seized swathes of territory from the Islamic State group.
Also Monday, the US Defence Department stated it was investigating allegations strike on Thursday focusing on Al-Qaeda leaders close to a mosque in northern Syria killed quite a few civilians.
Local experiences and the Observatory have claimed dozens of individuals had been killed, together with civilians.