Syrian reporter killed by rebel fire near Damascus

Smoke billows following air strikes by regime forces on April 29, 2015 in the restive Jobar area in eastern Damascus, which has been a battleground for more than two years (AFP Photo/-)

Damascus (AFP) - A Syrian journalist working for pro-government media was killed early on Monday as he was reporting on clashes in east Damascus, state media and a monitoring group said.

In a breaking news alert, Syrian state television reported the "death of National Defence Forces journalist Thaer al-Ajlani as he was covering the clashes in the Jobar area".

Jobar is still mostly controlled by rebel groups including Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

Pro-government militia, including the National Defence Forces (NDF) and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, have surrounded the area in an attempt to recapture it.

State news agency SANA also reported Ajlani's death, saying that he was covering government clashes "with takfiri (extremist Sunni) terrorist organisations" for radio station Sham FM.

Ajlani was also a correspondent for the Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the government.

Ajlani's last public post appeared early Monday on both Facebook and Twitter: "The Syrian army is firing barrages of rockets now towards the positions of (rebel group) Faylaq al-Rahman, (in the) east of Damascus."

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, Ajlani "was regularly embedded with the regime, NDF and Hezbollah in their battles."

It said heavy fighting had erupted in Jobar on Monday morning, and that regime aircraft had conducted at least 20 strikes on the area.

Rebel groups seized control of Jobar in summer 2013, and regime loyalists began their counteroffensive in September last year.

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