DAMASCUS, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- As many as 77 rebels have been killed during week-long battles with Syrian army in the Eastern Ghouta countryside of the capital Damascus, a monitor group reported on Friday.
The battles have been raging between the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) and the Syrian army in the vicinity of the Vehicle Base in Damascus' northeastern city of Harasta in Eastern Ghouta for eight days, following the rebels' attack on the base.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian forces haven't succeeded yet to break the siege imposed by the LLC and the allied Failaq al-Rahman on that key base.
The UK-based watchdog group said intense shelling targeted areas in the Eastern Ghouta region, adding that 79 civilians have so far been killed in the battles there.
A day earlier, the Syrian army unleashed a counter-offensive to break a siege imposed by al-Qaida-linked militants on the base.
The army units captured buildings east of the municipal building in Harasta amid heavy artillery shelling and rocket fire on the rebels' positions.
The Vehicle Base is the largest military facility in the Eastern Ghouta region, stretching from Harasta to Arbeen.
The base hosts a large number of soldiers, including Republican Guards, as well as big weapon depots.
During the war, the base has become a major operation center and supply facility for the Syrian forces inside the Eastern Ghouta region, which has many towns and neighborhoods.