dglobalnews.com Clashes in Syria after rebel assault
Published: Tue, March 21, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

Clashes in Syria after rebel assault

There are rumors that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has moved to to a hidden, safer location.

Fierce clashes broke out in the Syrian capital on Sunday after insurgents infiltrated government-held parts of the city through tunnels overnight, a rare if brief advance after months of steady losses at the hands of government forces elsewhere in the country.

The rebels began the day with two auto bombs and several suicide attacks, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.

The Levant Liberation Committee, a coalition of several militant groups led by al-Qaida's branch in Syria, and the independent Failaq al-Rahman faction spearheaded the blitz that caught the Syrian military off guard.

Insurgent groups have repeatedly tried to break the defenses of Damascus in recent years.

Abdel Rahman said it was unclear whether government forces or their Russian allies were carrying out Monday's raids on Jobar.

Rebels and government forces agreed to a nationwide cessation of hostilities in December, but fighting has continued across much of the country, including in the capital.

The Jobar district is split between rebel and government control and has been the scene of conflict for at least two years. The Ahrar al-Sham rebel group said fighters had "liberated" the area.

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Military source said that army units launched a counterattack on Nusra Front terrorists in which it secured the factories region north of Jobar, Hezbollah's Military Media Center reported.

Syrian state television said the army was fighting to repel an attack by militants in Jobar.

The TV reported live from Jobar around noontime Monday as cracks of gunfire and explosions could be heard in the distance.

"There have been intense air strikes since dawn on opposition-held positions in Jobar from which the offensive was launched", the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom -based war monitor, said.

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

"We were looking carefully at the details of the constitutional process and the creation of a constitutional committee in parliament", Slutsky said, according to Russia's RIA Novosti news agency.

Lina Khatib, the head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House said this is the first attack in Damascus of its kind by rebel groups that, until now, had been operating mainly in northern Syria. Late on Sunday, the FSA said its forces had taken control of three villages.

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