5 killed in rebel mortar attack in Damascus' Douma military showdown

A civil defence member breathes through an oxygen mask after a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun Syria

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of air strikes hit various parts of Douma, including some suspected to have been carried out by Russian warplanes. The renewed bombing killed eight people on Saturday, the monitor said, the day after negotiations collapsed.

It could not confirm whether the strikes were carried out by Syrian government warplanes or those of its ally, Russia.

The ministry has informed that about 7 people being killed and over 42 injured by Jaysh Al-Islam militants during the shelling of Damascus with 25 mortar shells and bombardment missiles.

"I spoke to one of the doctors inside the town, who told me. they received a number of wounded with symptoms from chlorine gas", said SAMS advocacy director Mohammad Katoub, who is based in Turkey.

Then more bombing raids slammed into the town on Saturday, the Britain-based Observatory and a civil defence worker said.

"The bombing still hasnt stopped".

State TV showed thick clouds of smoke rising from the targeted area, the town of Douma, where the Jaish al-Islam rebel group is holding out after insurgents in other parts of eastern Ghouta accepted safe passage to other rebel areas.

Bashar al-Assad has thrown into battle against the rebels elite unit, the Republican guard.

The regime's offensive on Ghouta since February 18 has killed more than 1,600 civilians.

Barzeh is close to the eastern Damascus suburb of Harasta that opposition fighters evacuated last month following weeks of a crushing government offensive on eastern Ghouta.

Backed by Russia, Syrian troops have recaptured 95 percent of Ghouta through a fierce air and ground assault, as well as negotiated withdrawals.

Fighters and civilians with familial ties to the group are being rejected, residents said.An activist interviewed Friday said the choice to stay had not been his own, after Jaish al-Islam declined to clear two of his relatives to leave and held up his application as a result. Another said she had been riding in a taxi when the shelling started, and the auto crashed head-on into a wall.

The Army of Islam appears to have reached a deal with Russian Federation to relocate to parts of northern Syria controlled by Turkey-allied opposition forces.

Syrian state media blamed Jaish al-Islam for refusing to hand over "hostages", saying the new assault was a bid to pressure the rebel group to hand them over.

It remains unclear exactly why the talks between Moscow and Jaish al-Islam have faltered.

A total of 2,963 militants and their families evacuated Douma in three batches over the past few days under a deal concluded between the Islam Army and the Syrian government forces under a Russian mediation.

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