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Syria conflict: Aircraft pound rebel-held eastern Damascus

Elsewhere, in central Syria, government forces closed the vital Damascus-Aleppo highway because of clashes with Daesh militants nearby.

The attack on Damascus comes just days before a fresh round of UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva aiming to put an end to Syria's six-year war.

The intensity of the Syrian army's counterattack on Monday forced the rebels to retreat from most of the areas they captured that day in an industrial area that separated Qaboun from Jobar.

Though rebels retain some territory in suburbs around Damascus, the Syrian military has greatly reduced the rebel presence in the area over the past several months, surrounding areas and forcing the rebels to agree to evacuation deals which have greatly reduced their numbers.

The government dispatched some of its elite forces to halt the offensive, which began shortly before sunrise with two suicide bombers from an al-Qaida-linked group.

For its part Israel has said that it does not usually inform Moscow ahead of time when it will carry out an air strike.

Russia's foreign ministry yesterday summoned Israel's ambassador over air strikes close to Moscow's forces near the historic Syrian city of Palmyra.

The military says it managed to push the rebels back.

More news: Awkward: Merkel asks for a handshake, Trump doesn't respond

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.

Government and rebel factions agreed to a nationwide cessation of hostilities in December, but both sides have accused each other of repeated violations.

A rebel commander said the Syrian army was intensifying its shelling on areas where they had advanced in Jobar and towns across Eastern Ghouta.

Members from Ahrar al-Sham, the recently formed jihadi umbrella group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS) were reportedly among the opposition fighters.

Rebel fighters have been granted safe passage to insurgent-held areas of northern Syria under such agreements.

Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with protests against Assad's rule but has evolved over the years into a complex civil war.

The Syrian government holds authority over most of the country's population, after an overwhelming Russian intervention in 2015 turned the tide against advancing rebel forces.

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