Heavy Syrian airstrikes hit rebel-held areas east of Damascus

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 10:50 GMT, Feb 26, 2016 |

Heavy airstrikes were reported to have hit rebel-held areas to the east of Damascus as fighting continued across much of western Syria on Friday.

The strikes come hours before a US-Russian plan aimed at halting the fighting is due to take effect.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 10 air raids and artillery shelling targeting the town of Douma, in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.

Rescue workers in the opposition-held area said on Twitter that there were confirmed civilian casualties but did not say how many. Syrian military officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The “cessation of hostilities” agreement is due to take effect at midnight (10pm GMT Friday).

The government has agreed to the plan. The main opposition alliance, which has deep reservations about the terms, has said it is ready for a two-week truce to test the intentions of the government and its Russian and Iranian backers. Damascus has made clear it will continue to target Islamic State and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front which are not included in the agreement.