Syrian forces confront new major offensive from rebels in east of Damascus 

DAMASCUS (Xinhua) – The Syrian army forces are confronting a new major offensive the rebels unleashed earlier on Sunday on military positions and residential areas in east of capital Damascus, witnesses told Xinhua and state TV reported.

The rebels of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, recently known as the Front for Conquering the Levant, launched a major offensive on Syrian military positions on the outskirts of the rebel-held neighbourhood of Jobar in eastern Damascus.

There were also attempts by the rebels to infiltrate residential neighbourhoods east of Damascus.

The state TV said the Syrian forces were foiling the attack, targeting the positions of the rebels in Jobar and the nearby Qaboun neighbourhood.

Some websites said the rebels succeeded to make progress on the Abbasiyeen Square east of Damascus and the Adawi Highway, both inside the capital, but the state TV aired live footages from the aforementioned areas, saying the rebel claims were just lies.

Syria rebels leaving the rebel-held neighbourhood of al-Wair, Syria on March 18. - BERNAMA
Syria rebels leaving the rebel-held neighbourhood of al-Wair, Syria on March 18. – BERNAMA

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses from the eastern neigh-bourhood of Tijara, which is close to Abbasiyeen Square, said the military forces cordoned the area, and cut the roads leading to Abbasiyeen Square.

The offensive started when the Nusra Front detonated two car bombs near military positions at the entrance of Jobar, in an attempt to infiltrate toward the Abbasiyeen Square and a bus station under the same name in that area.

Residents in Tijara told Xinhua that mortar shells landed on their neighbourhood as well as explosive bullets.

The Syrian army forces have recently offered deal for the evacuation of rebels from Qaboun, but the later refused, prompting the army to launch offensive to clear such areas from the rebel control.

Sunday’s attack is not the first on the areas in eastern Damascus, as the rebels tried before to infiltrate, but all of their attempts were rendered flat.

Military experts said the rebels are trying to make a morale gain, and to release pressure on their comrades in other areas.