February 13, 2013 - 15:49 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - President Bashar al-Assad's forces bombarded the southeast of Damascus with air strikes and artillery on Wednesday, Feb 13, to try and dislodge rebel fighters who have gained a foothold in the Syrian capital, opposition activists said, according to Reuters.
A Middle East diplomat following the military situation described battles in and around Damascus as a "major engagement", with fighting going back and forth between the two sides.
"The opposition is hitting Damascus from a multiple of directions and the regime is trying to stop it," he said.
Jets bombed Jobar, a neighborhood adjacent to the main Abbasid Square, and the suburb of Daraya on the highway to Jordan to the south, sources in the capital said.
The two areas are part of interconnected Sunni Muslim districts in and around Damascus that have been at the forefront of the 22-month uprising against four decades of family rule by Assad and his father.
Rebels entered Jobar last week after breaching the army's defense lines at the ring road and overrunning several army and pro-Assad militia positions in the district.
The road, a supply line for elite army units dug in in the center of the city, separates the capital from the mostly rebel-held expanse of Sunni towns and suburbs known as eastern Ghouta.
To the southwest, near the main highway to Jordan, heavy bombardment was reported on the suburb of Daraya, where the army advanced in the last few days, breaking a two-month rebel hold.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Tuesday the death toll in Syria is likely approaching 70,000 with civilians paying the price for the UN Security Council's lack of action to end the war.