BEIRUT: Rebel fighters said they fired Katyusha rockets at government positions in central Damascus on Wednesday in retaliation for alleged chemical weapons attacks by Syrian regime forces against civilians.
The claim came as Western powers readied for military action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime for suspected chemical attacks that are said to have killed hundreds on the Syrian capital's outskirts last week.
Opposition activists distributed video footage showing what they said were two locally produced Katyusha rockets being launched "in response to the chemical weapons massacre in Eastern Ghouta".
The insurgents also fired mortar shells at air force intelligence headquarters in the east of the capital, without causing casualties, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
That attack came a few hours after government forces fired two surface-to-surface missiles into the eastern Damascus suburb of Jobar, where fighting raged, as well as Qadam, said the Britain-based group.
"Jobar was bombarded at midnight and violent clashes broke out between Syrian troops and rebels on the periphery of this area," said the Observatory.
It added that similar attacks at dawn targeted Eastern Ghouta, one of two main areas that were reportedly hit by chemical weapons on August 21.
On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said any foreign military intervention in the country would not affect the army's campaign to crush the rebels.
"If they think they can and prevent the victory of our armed forces, they are mistaken," he told a news conference in Damascus.