Syrian warplanes bombed insurgents east of Damascus on Saturday and government forces pounded a town to the southwest, activists said, in a month-long and so far fruitless campaign to dislodge rebels around the capital.

Jets bombarded the Beit Sahm district on the road leading to the international airport and the army fired rockets at several rebel strongholds around Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad's bastion through 21 months of an increasingly bloody uprising.

The 47-year-old Alawite leader, forced on the defensive by the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels, has resorted increasingly to air strikes and artillery to stem their advances on the ground.