BEIRUT — Government airstrikes and shelling of suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus have killed 17 people as government forces press to retake areas they recently lost.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 17 people were killed Saturday, 12 of them in the suburb of Hamouriyeh.

The volunteer first-responders Syrian Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, reported 12 people killed in Hamouriyeh saying they included four children. They said five others were killed in other areas.

The Observatory reported more than 40 airstrikes on the suburbs known as eastern Ghouta.

Syrian government forces have been trying to reach a force trapped inside the suburb of Harasta for a week without success.

The U.N. says government forces are holding 400,000 people under siege in eastern Ghouta.

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