EFECairo

A series of bombardments carried out by Syrian government forces on the eve of a ceasefire killed at least 22 people near Damascus on Thursday, reported an epa journalist on the ground and a British war monitor.

Among the victims were at least 14 children and three women, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who indicated several others had been injured, some of them seriously.

"At least 22 people killed, including 14 children and a woman, as aerial bombing and artillery shelling intensify in Douma and Ghouta," posted the Observatory on its official Twitter account.

The attack came hours before a ceasefire agreed between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups.

The Russian and Turkish governments had already agreed to a truce Wednesday that was to come into effect at midnight (9 pm GMT Wednesday).

The attacks primarily affected several areas in the region of Ghouta, the main bastion of opposition forces in eastern Damascus, and Douma, some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) northeast of the capital.

The Syrian army high command announced Thursday that a ceasefire is to come into effect at midnight (9:00 pm GMT).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would be reducing its military presence in Syria following the ceasefire agreement with Assad.

A separate attack carried out by government forces in the southern city of Daraa killed five people, including a child and two women, according to the SOHR.

Meanwhile, rebel forces launched attacks on government-controlled areas of Aleppo, the Observatory said.