DAMASCUS, March 25 (Xinhua) -- At least 22 people were killed Saturday by airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the eastern countryside of the capital Damascus, a monitor group reported.
The airstrikes targeted several areas in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, as part of the government forces counter offensive against the rebels' major attacks on the capital.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 10 children and women were among those killed by the airstrikes.
The airstrikes came a day after the Syrian army announced repelling the rebel offensive on the capital, and striking the depth of the rebel-held areas in Ghouta area.
The offensive of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and other jihadi groups started last Sunday with suicide car bombs and relentless mortar shelling on the capital.
On Saturday morning, Syrian warplanes were roaring in the Damascus skies, with smoke seen rising from eastern Damascus.
The jihadi offensive on Damascus was coupled with another attack on government positions in the central province of Hama.
Both attacks were said to aim to pressure the Syrian government into giving concessions to the opposition during the currently-underway intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.
Earlier in the day, the Syrian army captured the city of Kokab in Hama countryside from the rebels, who stormed this city and other areas there during their current offensive.
Activists said 40 rebels were killed during the Syrian army's offensive to retake Kokab.
Meanwhile, state news agency SANA said that the Syrian army has expanded its operations in the northern countryside of Hama against the rebel offensive in that area.
It also said that the military forces captured new areas in the eastern countryside of the northern province of Aleppo, following battles with the Islamic State (IS) group.
SANA said the army secured the evacuation of 5,000 people from areas under the IS control in eastern Aleppo countryside through secure passages to other safe areas.