Middle East

Fresh fighting rocks Aleppo, Damascus: NGO

Syrian men sift through the rubble of houses following an air raid by regime forces in Al-Bab, 35 kms northeast of Syria's commercial capital Aleppo, September 15, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI)

Aleppo, Syria: The army pounded the rebel-held Shaar district of Aleppo on Sunday, killing 11 people, a rights group said, while 11 others including seven rebels were killed elsewhere in Syria's northern city.

"Eleven civilians were killed, three of whose names have been documented, when the army shelled the district of Shaar," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

Amateur video posted on YouTube showed what appeared to be the streets of Shaar in ruins, with rubble everywhere, electricity cables hanging from buildings, and black smoke rising.

"God curse you, O army," said an unidentified cameraman recording footage in Shaar, his voice trembling.

Another video showed bloodied corpses, including at least one child.

The violence came a day after UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned issued a grim warning after meeting President Bashar al-Assad.

"The crisis is dangerous and getting worse, and it is a threat to the Syrian people, the region and the world," he said.

Seven rebels were also killed elsewhere in Aleppo, the Observatory said.

It said a child was killed in overnight shelling of the southwest Fardoss neighbourhood, adding that a media activist with a rebel group was killed elsewhere in the city, and two civilians including a child were killed in the Masaken Shaabiyeh district.

Fresh fighting erupted in the central Midan district, a battleground for more than a week, an AFP correspondent said, while the Observatory reported clashes in the nearby Arkoub district.

Overnight, the army shelled Bustan al-Basha just north of Midan and pushed into neighbouring Arkoub after seizing a mosque between the two areas following fierce fighting on Friday, a military source told AFP.

Violence has raged in Syria's commercial capital since July 20 when regime forces launched an offensive aimed at driving rebels out of the city.

In Azimiyeh district, 17 unidentified bodies were found, said the Observatory, which has warned that deaths in Syria are becoming more difficult to document.

Elsewhere in the northern province, the watchdog reported one rebel killed in the town of Al-Bab, while waves of residents fled Al-Safira, fearing a security forces operation.

In Damascus, fighting erupted at dawn in the northeast suburb of Harasta, while the army also shelled the southern suburb of Al-Hajar al-Aswad from several directions.

Explosions also rocked the northeast suburb of Douma, while the rebel Assali and Qadam districts in south Damascus were also bombarded.

The northwestern province of Idlib, where much of the countryside is rebel-held, was also pounded. Shelling of the rebel-held town of Kafr Aweid killed at least 10 people, among them women and children, said the Observatory.

At least 66 people were killed nationwide on Sunday, it said.

Meanwhile, at least seven people were killed in an explosion targeting a bus on the road near Khirbet Ghazaleh in the southern province of Daraa, the Observatory said.

A similar attack on a bus carrying civilians and troops killed at least four people a week ago in the central province of Homs.

In Homs province, shelling killed two civilians in the rebel-held town of Rastan, and a man was killed in shelling in Tal Kalakh bordering Lebanon.

The army also pounded the region around the Crac des Chevaliers crusader castle, the watchdog said.

Another man was killed by sniper fire in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor while fighting in the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border killed a woman and a man.

At least 115 people, most of them civilians, were killed on Saturday, according to the Observatory, which gathers its information from activists, medical workers and other sources.

The Observatory estimates that more than 27,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad's rule erupted in March last year. The United Nations puts the toll at 20,000.





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