Syrian government forces regained control Monday of areas taken by jihadists the day before in a surprise assault near the centre of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said.

"The regime forces managed to take back most points west and north of Jobar only, but did not gain back all points they lost during Sunday's attack by the opposition groups," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told dpa.

State-run SANA news agency, citing a military source, said the Syrian army managed to regain control of all "points which the terrorists infiltrated in areas north of Jobar."

This includes a major parking area on the edge of Abbasid Square. The square is a gateway to the heart of Damascus, the seat of President Bashar al-Assad's government.

On Sunday, militants from an alliance led by the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and allied rebels attacked regime positions in the eastern neighbourhood of Jobar and advanced on the adjoining Abbasid Square, the Observatory said.

Some 26 members of the Syrian forces were killed since the clashes began, while the rebels lost 21 fighters, the monitoring group said.

It added that heavy airstrikes have targeted the areas where clashes are still taking place.

In recent months, al-Assad's forces have intensified their attacks aimed at retaking opposition areas on the outskirts of Damascus.

The Russian ambassador to Syria said Monday that one of the embassy complexes in al-Mazraa region was targeted by opposition shelling during clashes on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the European Union imposed sanctions on four high-ranking military officials in Syria for their role in the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

A statement by the EU did not name the four individuals, who will be under asset freezes and travel bans.

An EU official told dpa that the four individuals had been included in a UN Security Council draft resolution seeking sanctions for the use of chemical weapons that was vetoed by Russia and China in February.

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