Syrian warplanes Thursday launched 23 air raids on Mleiha southeast of Damascus, a key rebel bastion President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has struggled for weeks to recapture, a monitor said.

Regime ground forces also targeted the Mleiha area with nine surface-to-surface missiles, as troops backed by Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah battled rebels and their jihadist Al-Nusra Front allies, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Assad regime in late spring began a bid to retake Mleiha, which is strategically located near the airport road and in the besieged rebel region of Eastern Ghouta. […]