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Syria Civil War: Assad's Jets Bomb Damascus For First Time As Death Toll Hits 36,000

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Syrian fighter jets have struck suburbs in Damascus for the first time during the 19-month conflict, which has now left 36,000 people dead, according to a human rights watchdog.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that 62 civilians, 22 rebel fighters and 41 soldiers were killed on Tuesday, and put out its latest figures for the overall death toll.

The figure only includes confirmed dead and does not count those who have gone missing during the conflict or thousands of pro-regime militia-men.

"Warplanes carried out five air raids on the farmlands around the towns of Saqba and Douma and smoke was seen rising from the targeted areas," said the SOHR director, Rami Abdel Rahman.

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This unverified photo appears the aftermath of bombing by Syrian forces in Damascus

Until now President Bashar al-Assad's regime had only used helicopter gunships to target rebel positions within the capital and this was the first use of jets added Rahman.

The use of warplanes so close to Assad's seat of power points to an increasing desire to use all force necessary to snuff out the rebellion which has been raging for over 19 months now.

The overall death toll from the conflict so far is reported to include 25,667 civilians.

A United Nations (UN) spokesperson told the Huffington Post that they were finding it impossible to verify or provide official figures as they could not gain full access to large parts of the country. The official UN line is that there are over 20,000 dead although this is subject to revision.

The UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met China's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, on Wednesday in an attempt to garner international support for a resolution to the conflict.

There are also fears that the violence is spilling over the borders into neighbouring Lebanon, stoking religious and ethnic tensions in the highly volatile region.

Earlier in the week fighter jets bombed positions in Deir el-Zour in the east of Syria, in the most intense bombardment campaign of the conflict with over 60 raids.

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Smoke rises from Deir el-Zour after an attack by Syrian fighter jets

A ceasefire timed to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid brokered by Brahimi was largely ineffective as 500 were killed during the four day truce.

The increased force comes two days after state television reported that rebel forces had shot dead a senior Syrian Air Force general as he was leaving a friends house.

The assassination is the latest in a string of attacks by rebels that have successfully targeted senior figures of the al-Assad regime.

In July rebels managed to infiltrate a government building killing the country's defence minister and Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat in an explosion.

Syrian Armed Forces may believe they have some extra help in store. They released a statement on Monday proclaiming the Hurricane Sadny was created by "highly advanced technologies developed by the heroic Iranian regime that supports the resistance, with coordination of our resistive Syrian regime."

This unverified video below appears to show Syrian fighter jets striking the suburbs of Damascus on Monday.