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Syrian government forces, rebels clash at east Damascus edges – monitor

BEIRUT Syrian government forces battled rebel groups at the fringes of Damascus on Sunday, after the insurgents launched an attack from the east of the heavily fortified capital, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army and allied forces had engaged in heavy clashes with rebels in the Jobar district, at the eastern edge of Damascus.

Insurgent groups attacked government positions in the area, including with two suicide car bombs, in an attempt to storm their defence lines, the Britain-based Observatory said.

The district stands between Damascus and the besieged rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta in the suburbs, which government air strikes have battered in recent weeks.

Warplanes pounded the Jobar area on Sunday, while rebel shells hit several nearby districts in Damascus, including Bab Touma, Rukn al-Din and the Abbasiyin area, the Observatory said.

Syrian state television said the army was fighting to repel an attack by militants in Jobar.

Sounds of shelling and gunfire could be heard in Damascus since the morning, a resident said.

(Reporting by Ellen Francis; editing by Jason Neely)