Mortar shell hits Damascus citadel as rebels, regime troops clash across the capital
A mortar round hit in close proximity to the ancient Damascus citadel late on Sunday evening as fierce clashes ripped through several of the capital's neighbourhood, a monitoring group reported.
"A mortar landed near the Damascus citadel wounding several people, while another fell near the Dweila district (in the southeast), setting fire to a textile plant," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group that uses a network of activists on the ground in Syria to report on the conflict.
The news of the blast was confirmed by state news agency SANA, who blamed "terrorists" for a shell that "caused a textile factory to burn down completely," AFP reported.
The news agency often refers to those opposing President Bashar al-Assad as terrorists.
Also Sunday, fighting raged in the northern Damascus suburb of Barzeh, according to the Observatory. Meanwhile, in southern Damascus, Syrian opposition fighters clashed with Assad's troops -- backed up by militants from the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah -- in the Al Hajar Al Aswad neighbourhood, the Syrian Revolution General Commission, another on-the-ground network of activists in Syria.
The fighting comes amid a massive army offensive that is seeking to recapture the areas of southern Damascus that have long been held by rebel groups in the now over two-and-a-half year old conflict. The army has been keeping these suburbs under siege for nearly a year and according to activists, food and basic supplies are so scarce that many children are suffering from malnutrition, according to AFP.
The Observatory added that fighting was also taking place in Sbeineh in the south of Damascus, while "regime forces bombarded parts of the town".
At least 120,000 have died in the Syrian conflict so far, which began in 2011 as a peaceful uprising against Assad's rule.