AMMAN - Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad fought rebels in Damascus for control of an area just east of the city center on Monday, moving tanks to defend their lines as their opponents also struck targets elsewhere in the capital.
Residents and activists said the army of President Bashar al-Assad sent armored reinforcements to Jobar, a Sunni Muslim district adjacent to the city's landmark Abbasid Square after rebels took over a loyalist position in the area, the third since fighters pushed into Jobar last week, they said.
However, Assad's forces remained well dug in in the center.
"The main battle is taking place in Jobar," an opposition activist in Damascus named Amer said. "The rebels appear to be advancing in the eastern sector. But the center of Damascus is crisscrossed with concrete barriers and security is deployed everywhere; we cannot say that they (the rebels) have a real active present in the center."
He said the army appeared to be under so much pressure in Jobar that it had moved tanks there from the southwestern suburb of Daraya, near the highway to the Jordanian border, where it has been battling rebels for two months.
A video posted by a group known as Liwa al-Islam, one of the opposition fighting units around Damascus, showed its members firing a rocket they claimed had a range of 60 km, an apparent marked improvement in the arsenal of the opposition.