Raid on Damascus shatters hopes of end to Syrian war

The assault began early on Sunday with vehicle bombs and suicide attacks, activists said.

"At 5.00 a.m. (0300 GMT) we launched the new offensive and we restored all the points we withdrew from on Monday".

According to the Observatory, the Islamist Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group and the Fateh al-Sham Front - known as Al-Nusra Front before it broke ties with al-Qaeda - are present in Jobar.

The Syrian army recaptured all areas fallen during Sunday's wide-scale offensive by rebels in eastern Damascus, the military general command said Monday. But forces loyal to president Bashar Al Assad had pushed them back by nightfall and began a fierce bombing campaign on Monday morning, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The most recent fighting has focused on the areas around Qabun and Barza, which the army has isolated from the rest of the main rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta and the eastern districts of Damascus.

The fresh wave of attack started by the explosion of a vehicle bomb, which was the sign of the beginning of the second stage of the rebel attack on eastern Damascus.

Since early Sunday, elements of the so-called Levant Liberation Board, a coalition led by former al-Nusrah, have attacked military points with auto bombs and launched mortar shells at various areas of the Syrian capital.

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"Our air defense engaged them and shot down one warplane over occupied territory, hit another one, and forced the rest to flee", the army said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.

He added that the army units have liberated all regions in Northern Jobar which were occupied by the terrorists, and killed all militants in the area.

It was a grim reminder that the fighting is far from over, despite significant advances by Assad's forces against rebels across the country in the past year.

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

Rebels destroyed a Syrian army tank near Jobar, other sources said. The regime responded with intense bombardment of rebel-held areas.

"This is a military and political message to Russian Federation that the regime is weak and has no full control and is unable to decisively tilt the balance in its favor militarily", Issam al Rayess, a spokesman for the FSA's Southern Front alliance of Western and Arab backed rebel groups.

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