20 civilians killed as Syrian troops take on rebel bastions

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The Israeli Air Force struck Syrian military positions east of Damascus in a series of overnight raids, the Syrian army said Tuesday.

The military said the Syrian air defense shot down one missile and the rest fell on one of the Syrian military sites, causing material damage.

Israel then fired ground-to-ground rockets from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, but the Syrian defences brought the missiles down, the Syrian army said.

The Israeli military did not comment on reports of the attack, which is its standing policy.

The latest strikes come as the government steps up its offensive against the country's last rebel-held areas.

Syria's foreign ministry also accused Israel of launching the attacks in support of opposition fighters. "We will cut off Israel's arms of terror and restore security and stability on all Syrian lands".

The reported attacks were launched on Tuesday morning, a Syrian statement broadcast on state television indicated.

The semi-rural area east of the Syrian capital is home to around 400,000 inhabitants and is targeted nearly daily by regime forces trying to flush out rebel groups.

Qutayfeh is in the north-eastern suburbs of Damascus where Syrian Republican Guard units are known to have major outposts.

On Sunday, at least 18 people, including civilians, were killed on Sunday in an explosion at a base in Idlib city.

Rebel-held Idlib province is one of the last Syrian provinces still beyond regime control.

For its part, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported citing some sources in the Syrian opposition that the target was a weapons depot.

SANA gave no details about casualties or damage in the alleged attacks.

Turkey has been fiercely opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his country's six-year-old civil war but has recently been working with his allies Russian Federation and Iran for a political resolution to the conflict.

Ten of the assault drones were directed toward the Hmeimim airbase in northwestern Syria, the NYT said.