BEIRUT: Syria’s air force struck Sbeineh south of Damascus yesterday, as loyalists pressed a fierce bid to crush rebel bastions around the capital, a monitoring group said.
In northern Syria, Kurdish fighters made fresh progress in an advance against Al Qaeda-linked jihadists, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
South of Damascus, “warplanes struck areas of Sbeineh... as regime troops shelled the town,” said the Britain-based Observatory.
Rebels on the capital’s southern front were battling government troops backed by both pro-regime militias and fighters from the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah.
“The strike was part of the regime’s offensive against rebel areas in and around southern Damascus,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
There has been a marked escalation along Damascus’ southern belt, which has been under a suffocating siege for months, giving rise to widespread malnutrition especially among children.
In eastern Damascus, battles raged between rebels and troops, while loyalists also pressed an advance in Barzeh, north of the capital, the Observatory said.
The regime has for months been trying to secure the capital, which is surrounded by rebel positions.
State news agency SANA, meanwhile, said two people were wounded in shelling by “terrorists” of the Bab Jabieh neighbourhood of central Damascus.
Southeast of Damascus, several mortar rounds smashed into the majority Christian-Druze neighbourhood of Jaramana, wounding nine people, said SANA.
In rebel-held Yabrud, northeast of the capital, one person was killed and several were wounded in a car bomb explosion, according to the Observatory.
Both central Damascus and Jaramana, which are firmly under army control, have come under frequent shellfire in past weeks.
Elsewhere, Kurdish fighters pressed an advance against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the majority Kurdish province of Hasake, said the Observatory.
Yesterday, they took over several villages and military positions surrounding Ras Al Ain, which borders Turkey.
According to the Observatory, Kurdish militia are now in control of a stretch of 25 kilometres along the Syrian-Turkish border, to the west of Ras Al Ain.
The advance comes less than a week after Kurdish fighters drove out jihadists and took over the Yaarubiyeh border crossing with Iraq.
Syria’s conflict, which has killed more than 120,000 people, was sparked by a regime crackdown on pro-democracy protests.