Syrian Islamist factions recaptured territory from Syrian army and allied militia forces in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs, activists said Tuesday.
The recent gains came in the wake of the formation of a new rebel joint military operations room in the embattled suburbs, which includes members from the Army of Islam, Ajnad al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, Nusra Front and Failaq al-Rahman.
On Monday, the Syrian army backed by Shiite militias took ground in the Marj al-Sultan region near the rebel-controlled military airport of al-Marj. The offensive lasted only a few hours.
The Army of Islam said regime forces backed by Russian warplanes aim to divide the suburbs of Eastern Ghouta into two parts, cutting access to the area’s main supply route by taking Marj al-Sultan.
The powerful rebel group said more than 150 regime troops have been killed in the ongoing clashes.
On Sunday, about 70 people, including women and children, were killed in air and missile attacks on a school district in Douma and its neighboring suburbs, in eastern Damascus.
In a relevant development, Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday its planes had carried out air strikes to support four rebel groups in Syria, saying it was working to try to unite the efforts of the Free Syrian Army and government troops against Islamic State, Reuters reported.
It said it had conducted strikes in support of a group called "Ganim", which it said was part of the Free Syrian Army, as well as the "Desert Lions" group, another faction called "Qalamoun," and the Syrian Democratic Forces.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.