Heavy fighting in east Damascus as Syrian army fends off Nusra-led offensive (VIDEO)

Heavy fighting in east Damascus as Syrian army fends off Nusra-led offensive (VIDEO)
Fierce clashes between the Syrian army and rebels led by the Al-Qaeda offshoot formerly known as Al-Nusra Front broke out in neighborhoods east of Damascus on Tuesday. Ruptly video footage captured relentless artillery fire, explosions and smoke rising from the area.

Syrian government forces have intensified the shelling of terrorist positions north of the Jobar neighborhood, which has been split between government forces and rebels for over two years.

On Tuesday morning, terrorists detonated a car bomb, launching an incursion from the edges of Damascus and succeeded in infiltrating al-Maamel area in its eastern outskirts, aiming to push offensive further into the al-Qaboun neighborhood, RT Arabic reported.

Several missiles have been launched by rebels into the central part of the city, Reuters reported, citing witnesses.

“Very frightening situation for civilians living in Syria’s most populous city at the moment. Several neighborhoods have suffered from shelling, exploding bullets hitting cars and houses in the areas, numerous civilians have been injured as a result of these clashes,” RT’s Lizzie Phelan reported.

The Syrian armed forces managed to stop the advancement and isolated the jihadists in the al-Mamel area in the southern al-Qaboun district, located to the north of the embattled Jobar area, repelling all attempts to break through the siege.

“They entered a narrow pocket – the same area of the [previous] breach – and now this group is being dealt with,” a source in the Syrian military said, as cited by Reuters.

The terrorists holding up in al-Qaboun launched attacks on Al-Abissin residential area, shelling it and firing sniper bullets towards the area, Syria’s state SANA news agency reported, noting that the Syrian army responded with artillery fire.

Two football players were among the victims of the hostilities, suffering injuries when the compound housing a local football team was targeted in a rebel shelling, RT’s Phelan said.

At least 15 people have been injured as result of rocket shelling of Masaken Barzeh and al-Shaghour neighborhoods, SANA reported.

The Syrian forces have been relying on attacks from the air, pounding heavily on terrorist supply routes and their positions in Jobar. The government has largely withdrawn its attack troops from the front lines relocating them to the perimeter of the city and beefing them up around Abassiyin area in the Jobar neighborhood.

The Abassiyin area, which is located some 2 kilometers away from the Old City of the Syrian capital, has recently witnessed heavy fighting as its strategic location opens the road to Damascus.

The rebel offensive has been spearheaded by Tahrir al-Sham, a new name assumed by the terrorist group Al-Nusra Front after it merged with several smaller groups in January. The militant group, which has been excluded from the all-Syrian ceasefire and recently recognized by the US as a terrorist entity, has been joined in its push by hardline Ahrar Al-Sham as well as some factions of the Free Syrian Army. 

The rebel offensive has been launched from the jihadist stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus. As the Syrian forces try to tighten their grip on the stronghold, the rebels attempted to loosen it by going on an offensive in Jobar.

While the rebels did not gain ground Tuesday, they fell short of their goal to create a supply road by linking two areas in the eastern part of Damascus.

Nevertheless, they managed to retain control over the areas that had captured during the last couple of days, Phelan said.