The Syrian army foiled the attempt of armed rebels to wage a wide-scale offensive on the capital Damascus, the pro-government al-Watan daily said Thursday.
As the information has been flowing to the Syrian security forces about the rebels' attempt to attack Damascus, the Syrian troops carried out a pre-emptive operation on Tuesday evening, destroying many rebels' hideouts and killing many of them, the paper said, adding that the operation has pushed the rebels in the eastern suburbs of Jobar and Zamalka to unleash attacks against army checkpoints in those areas on Wednesday in a bid to reach the Abbasyen Square in the capital "to which they couldn't even get close."
"Their destiny was for them to be killed at the gates of Damascus, particularly in the surrounding of Abbasyen," the paper said, adding that the rebels' attack was backed by a media campaign that aimed to lift their "falling morale."
The paper, a mouthpiece of the Syrian government, said the rebels had planned for the attack to respond to the dialogue initiative called for by the head of the main opposition coalition abroad, Moaz al-Khatib, whose recent calls for dialogue with the Syrian regime was rejected by some opposition groups abroad as well as the fighting rebels on ground, whose ranks have been overwhelmed with radical and jihadists who believe in neither freedom nor democracy.
The paper, meanwhile, said the army continued its showdown in other hotspot suburbs of Damascus, making advancement in Arbeen, Harasta and Sbaineh.
In the northern province of Aleppo, the army is preparing to fight a "decisive battle" with the Nusra Front, an offshoot of al- Qaida, at the Sfaira district and other nearby areas.
On the opposition side, the Local Coordination Committees, activists' network, said the government troops shelled on Thursday the Damascus' suburbs of Yalda, Zabadani, Haran al-Awamid, Mudamieh and Daraya.
It said the Syrian air force bombed several areas in the central province of Homs, adding that at least five people have been killed since Thursday morning.
Another activists' group, Damascus Media Office, reported heavy security presence in several areas in Damascus, namely Rukin Addien and the central Midan district.
Syria has been engulfed in a bloody conflict between opposition forces and government troops since March 2011. It has so far claimed 60,000 lives, according to UN estimates.