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DAMASCUS: A Syrian fighter jet hit targets inside Damascus for the first time yesterday, a watchdog said, as air strikes pounded rebel bastions around the country and an air force general was shot dead.
The warplane dropped four bombs on the east Damascus neighbourhood of Jobar, near the opposition-held suburb of Zamalka, where rebel fighters were locked in fierce clashes with the army, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Only helicopter gunships had previously been used to strafe areas inside the capital, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Correspondents reported that the bombing run was heard across the capital.
The strike, and more raids around the country, came as Syrian rebels claimed responsibility for the killing in Damascus of an air force general.
State television said the general, Abdullah Mahmud
Al Khalidi, was killed in the north Damascus district of Rukn
Al Din, but gave no further details.
The general was shot dead on Monday evening as he left a friend’s home, a security source in Damascus said on condition of anonymity.
In a statement posted on the Internet, the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it had killed Khalidi, who it said was in charge of training, along with an air force intelligence officer.
The government has intensified air strikes against rebel-held areas in recent days, with more than 60 raids on Monday, the most in a single day so far, the Observatory said.
Yesterday, air strikes hit rebel bastions around Damascus including the town of Douma, where the Observatory said large numbers of people were killed or wounded.
The northwestern town of Maaret Al Numan, seized by rebels earlier this month, was also hit, with seven civilians killed, including four children, it said.
The army has been battling rebels for weeks for control of the town, which is on a key supply route between Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo.
Yesterday also saw clashes between rebels and troops backed by Palestinian fighters at the Yarmuk refugee camp, home to 148,500 Palestinians on the edge of the capital.