The Syrian army bombarded opposition strongholds in southern Damascus on Monday with artillery and from the air, hours after opposition fighters attacked a militia loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, opposition activists said.
At least eight people were killed and dozens wounded in the bombardment, after 20 people were killed by army shelling overnight, they said.
Syrian opposition fighters clashed with regime troops in Aleppo also on Monday as the opposition held makeover talks in Qatar and diplomatic efforts to end the violence spun their wheels.
The fresh clashes came as the opposition fighters sought to keep momentum after seizing a major oilfield and shooting down a warplane in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on Sunday.
Warplanes fired rockets and tanks and artillery pounded the neighborhoods of Sbeineh, Yalda, Bibla, al-Tadamun and Hajar a-Aswad on Monday, the activists said.
The working-class Sunni Muslim neighborhoods have been at the forefront of the 19-month-old revolt against Assad, whose Alawite faith derives from Shi’ite Islam.
Free Syrian Army fighters attacked a pro-Assad militia in the southern neighborhood of Nisreen overnight, an area mainly populated by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect.
Opposition fighters also hit positions belonging to the Popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), an Assad proxy, in the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.
At least seven PFLP-GC members were killed in the fighting, and ambulances were seen taking dozens of casualties from Nisreen to a nearby hospital, activists in the area said.
The opposition fighters have scored significant wins in recent weeks and hold swathes of territory in the country’s north, but have struggled to gain ground in and around Damascus and in the commercial hub Aleppo amid heavy bombardment from regime air power.
Strikes from regime warplanes and helicopter gunships have reached a new level of intensity in recent days as government forces try to reverse opposition gains on the ground.
Air raids continued Monday with jets hitting the eastern outskirts of Damascus, the northwest province of Idlib and near the Iraqi border in the east, the Observatory said.