Syrian air raids near Damascus despite ceasefire

Rebel fighters carrying homemade sniper rifles in Ain Terma last Thursday. The militant stronghold east of Damascus was reportedly bombarded by regime warplanes yesterday, even though a ceasefire had been announced the day before. No casualties were
Rebel fighters carrying homemade sniper rifles in Ain Terma last Thursday. The militant stronghold east of Damascus was reportedly bombarded by regime warplanes yesterday, even though a ceasefire had been announced the day before. No casualties were reported. Air raids were also launched on Douma, Jisreen and Harasta.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIRUT • Syria's regime carried out air raids yesterday on one of the last rebel strongholds near Damascus, a monitor said, a day after it declared a ceasefire in parts of the enclave.

The Syrian army last Saturday announced a halt in fighting for parts of Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held region on the outskirts of the capital that has been ravaged during the six-year conflict.

"Regime warplanes targeted the area of Ain Terma, with at least six strikes since early morning, and two raids were carried out on and around the city of Douma," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on sources in Syria for its information, did not report any casualties.

Regime shelling also hit the outskirts of the town of Jisreen yesterday, said the Observatory, following regime artillery and rocket fire on areas including Ain Terma and the town of Harasta last Saturday after the ceasefire had started.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces have surrounded the Eastern Ghouta region for more than four years, and regime forces have regularly targeted the area. Mr Assad's forces have been fighting rebels for weeks on the outskirts of Ain Terma, which links Eastern Ghouta to opposition-held parts of the Damascus district of Jobar.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said no militant forces were present in the areas targeted by regime bombardment.

The army announced a halt in fighting in areas of Eastern Ghouta last Saturday from midday local time, but did not say which areas exactly would be included.

The ceasefire announcement came after regime ally Russia said it had reached a deal with "moderate" rebels on the boundaries and policing of the safe zone. But no rebel group yielding influence in Eastern Ghouta said they had signed that agreement.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2017, with the headline 'Syrian air raids near Damascus despite ceasefire'. Print Edition | Subscribe