Syrian security forces dealt heavy blows to anti-government rebels who rushed to areas close to the Sayyida Zainab neighborhood after coming under attack in various parts of the capital.

Troops are fighting with the militants now to completely clear the mainly Shia Muslim neighborhood of the rebels.

About 5,000 Shia Muslims, including those who have fled violence in other part of the capital, are living in the neighborhood.

The youths in the region, armed with sticks and knives, have formed committees to protect the holy shrine of Sayyida Zainab, the daughter of Imam Ali (PBUH), and the neighboring areas.
Several members of the committees have been martyred or injured in different clashes with armed rebels.

The rebels have killed a number of Shia residents of the area or expelled them from their homes several times.

Reports say the armed groups have also denied food and water supplies to the region on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan.

Syrian troops also succeeded to retake the control of the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Damascus which was for a while under armed rebels’ control.

Fierce clashes between government forces and the rebels are being reported in other areas including Jubar, Mazzeh and Kfar Sousa.

Troops on Friday recaptured the key southern neighborhood of al-Midan during an operation aimed at clearing the city of the rebels.

Security sources say the army is now also in control of Tadamon, Qaboon and Barzeh neighborhoods.

The major offensive against the armed groups comes a few days after a terrorist bomb blast left defense minister Dawood Rajha and several other high-ranking officials dead.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011, with demonstrations being held both against and in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The Syrian government says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings

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