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Middle East Syrian troops fend off besieging jihadis

SYRIAN army units besieged by jihadist-led militias at a military vehicle depot base in Harasta, east Damascus province, claimed today to have repelled a powerful assault, killing scores of terrorists.

They reported turning back an attack by combined jihadist forces of the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham — formerly the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida — and Ahrar al-Sham, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate.

Despite this success, which included knocking out a tank used to spearhead the jihadist attack, the overall operational situation for troops defending the depot remains unfavourable, despite a dozen air strikes and army efforts to break the troops’ encirclement.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said today that three days of fighting in east Damascus has left 35 civilians dead, as well as 24 government troops and 29 insurgents.

An Ahrar al-Sham official said that the government was negotiating safe passage of its trapped fighters.

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