Despite the Syrian army and the US-backed rebels agreeing to a three-day nationwide truce on 6 July, fighting continued in near Damascus. The truce, declared to mark Eid al-Fitr ending the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, was shattered by air attacks and bombings in Darayya and Douma.

The Syrian army had announced a "regime of calm", or the first truce covering the entire country since the cessation of hostilities was brokered by foreign powers in February.

Reuters reported that the truce has almost fallen apart and increase in clashes has led peace talks to end the five-year-old war to break down. Aid and monitoring groups have also said that no changes were visible on the ground because of the ceasefire.

"The regime announced the ceasefire, but they did not commit to it. There has been a lot of shelling and bombing on Douma and Daraya (rebel-held towns near Damascus)," a spokeswoman for the Syrian opposition delegation to Geneva peace talks said.

Although it is unclear if the military's announcement of the "regime of calm" was discussed with the opponents, Free Syrian Army, a rebel group backed by the western countries, has said that it would adhere to the truce "so long as the other side [government] does the same".

"Until now, [the government] has not abided by what it has announced, in that it has launched a number of attacks in various areas today," the rebel group said in a statement.

Islam Alloush, spokesman for rebel bloc Jaish al Islam, told reporters that the latest ceasefire was announced only to "escape international pressure". He said he did not observe any changes on the ground.

In a separate statement, he said President Bashar al-Assad and his forces attacked the town of Maydaa near Damascus, which is controlled by Alloush's faction.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian government had taken almost complete control of Maydaa, where the attacks continued. Besides, the monitoring group reported air strikes in areas around the northern city of Aleppo on Wednesday (6 July). It said five air strikes hit the town of Jisr al-Shughour in rebel-held Idlib province, where two children were killed and a number of others were wounded.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the ceasefire announcement by the Syrian military, adding that discussions were under way to try to extend the truce.

Syrian children play on a street with plastic toys guns in a rebel-held district of the northern city of Aleppo Ameer Alhabi/ AFP