A Syrian government official says troops have captured most of the strategic Damascus suburb of Daraya and claims the area will be safe within few days.

The official told The Associated Press on Saturday that the army is battling some small pockets of rebels in the area just south of Damascus.

A government takeover of Daraya would provide a boost to the regime's defense of Damascus.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Syrian forces have been trying to capture Daraya from opposition fighters for weeks.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Daraya and other suburbs of the capital were being shelled on Saturday.

The violence comes a day after rebels said they have captured a strategic air base in the north.