A suicide car bomb blew up at an army checkpoint in northeastern Damascus on Monday night, leaving five soldiers killed, a watchdog said, as rebels pressed toward the centre of the capital.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy fighting around the checkpoint, located on the edge of rebel-held Qaboon district, and between the adjacent district of Jobar and the iconic Abbasid Square.
A security source confirmed the attack against the checkpoint and said that there were casualties among the troops without giving a figure.
He told AFP on condition of anonymity that fierce clashes had also erupted in Jobar district, but had not reached as far as Abbasid Square, which holds symbolic importance for both sides as one of the main squares of the capital.
The Observatory, which collects its reports from a network of medics and activists on the ground, said that four children were killed in shelling in Qaboon as clashes raged there between loyalist troops and the insurgents.