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Strikes pound east Damascus after rebel assault

The bombers, a Saudi and a Syrian, detonated their explosives-laden trucks against army positions on the eastern edge of the capital amid a barrage of artillery shells that landed in the heart of Damascus.

Syrian state media said 15 people were wounded in rebel shelling across the capital.

Fighters from the Islamist rebel groups Ahrar al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman took part in the clashes against regime forces, activists said.

The surprise gains by rebels in Damascus on Sunday came after 18 months of steady losses to government forces across Syria, including in Aleppo, Homs and in Damascus itself.

"In their assault yesterday, rebels were able to open a road for several hours between Qabun and Jobar, but the area is now a front line and they can no longer cross between the two", Mr Abdel Rahman said.

The fighting began with vehicle bombs and suicide attacks in the suburb of Jobar which were met with artillery fire from the army.

Failaq al-Rahman rebels are fighting alongside fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and a hardline al-Qaeda-linked alliance called Tahrir al-Sham.

The insurgents carried out the attack in Jobar after they had infiltrated through a network of tunnels, the agency said.

Cheltenham Festival 2017: Djakadam in the ideal shape to land Gold Cup
O'Neill said: "It was his first run proper of the season, he has no miles on the clock and he'll improve a ton on that". Despite his late charge, Mullins couldn't hold off Gordon Elliott in the race to be leading trainer at the Festival.

Fighting saw damage to the Russian embassy in Damascus, according to the ambassador Alexander Kinshchak, while the opposition stronghold Jobar has been battered by retaliatory air strikes.

Israel's military said it had been targeting weapons bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, which backs the damascus regime in Syria.

The Jobar district is split between rebel and government control and has been the scene of conflict for at least two years.

The rebel groups have launched the assault from their Eastern Ghouta stronghold to the east of the capital.

Almost half a million people have been killed and half of the country's pre-war population has been displaced.

Israel rarely comments on such alleged strikes, either to confirm or deny them.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday threatened to destroy Syrian air defence systems after they fired ground-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes carrying out strikes.

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