Armoured forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad took control Sunday of eastern suburbs of Damascus from opposition fighters after two days of bombardment and fighting with rebels, activists said.

The Free Syrian Army has made a tactical withdrawal. Regime forces have re-occupied the suburbs and started making house to house arrests, Kamal, one of the activists, said by phone from the eastern Ghouta area on the edge Damascus.

A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, under which army defectors fighting Assad's forces are loosely organised, would not be drawn on operational details but said tanks had entered the eastern Ghouta suburbs.

Tanks have gone in but they do not know where the Free Syrian Army is. We are still operating close to Damascus, Maher al-Naimi told Reuters by phone from Turkey.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; editing by Philippa Fletcher)