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Syrian state tv shows government troops fighting rebels in central Damascus.  — Photo by AP

DAMASCUS: Syrian military forces have routed rebel fighters from the Midan district of Damascus, state television said Friday, but a monitoring group said fighting was still ongoing.

“Our brave army forces have completely cleaned the area of Midan in Damascus of the remaining mercenary terrorists and have reestablished security,” the broadcaster said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in a statement, said “seven tanks and two armed personnel carriers stormed the district” of Midan, in southern Damascus.

The assault was ongoing, and explosions could be heard in the area, the group said.

The attack came after a night of fighting in several other districts across the capital, the Observatory said.

“Fighting broke out in Kfar Sousa, where a taxi driver was killed by gunfire, and Al-Hajar Al-Aswad,” the Britain-based watchdog chief Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.

As rebels seeking to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad step up their offensive in the capital, the army has responded in kind, launching an assault on the Qaboon district for the first time on Thursday.

The Observatory said “more than 15 tanks and armed personnel carriers” were taking part in the attack on Qaboon, in the east of the city.

More than 248 people were killed on Thursday across the country, the highest daily death toll in 16 months of fighting, the Observatory said.

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