Middle East

Air raid near Damascus kills six children

Residents walk near buildings, damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, at Douma near Damascus December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Karm Seif/Shaam News Network/Handout

BEIRUT: Syrian warplanes launched a deadly raid Monday on the outskirts of the rebel-held town of Douma northeast of Damascus, killing seven civilians, among them six children, a pro-opposition monitoring group said.

“Seven civilians, among them six children, were killed in an air raid on the Shifuniyeh area near Douma,” said the british-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At least 13 insurgents were also killed in fierce battles that raged in the southern Damascus neighborhoods of Kfarbatna, Harasta, Daraya and Zamalka, said the watchdog, which relies on a broad network of doctors, activists and lawyers to compile its reports.

Regime troops shelled other towns and villages around the capital with artillery as soldiers and rebels fought in street clashes.

Fighter jets also blasted the rebel-held town of Talbisseh in the central province of Homs, while the Jobar neighborhood in the southwest of the province was hit by more than 100 rockets, according to activists.

In the northern province of Raqqa, a 3-year-old child and his 17-year-old brother were killed in army shelling on the town of Tabaqa, as rebels made significant advances in the province which borders Turkey, it said.

Elsewhere in Syria, army troops battled rebels in oil-rich Deir al-Zor in the east, along Syria’s border with Iraq. In the north fighting was concentrated around the battlefield city of Aleppo, particularly along the road that links the city with its airport.

The Observatory said there was heavy fighting near Aleppo international airport as regime troops tried to dislodge rebels from Sheikh Said area, southeast of the city that is Syria’s largest urban center and its main commercial hub.

Rebels captured the strategic Sheikh Said neighborhood on Saturday. It was a significant blow to regime forces that have been battling rebels for control of Aleppo since last summer. The army used the road to supply troops.

Another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, said regime fighter jets carried out several airstrikes on Sheikh Said Monday in an effort to reverse rebels’ advance in Aleppo. There were no reports of casualties from the bombing.

Rebels hold large parts of the city and its outskirts, including several army bases, but they have been unable to capture Aleppo in seven months of a deadly stalemate due to regime’s far superior firepower.

At least 90 people were killed in violence across Syria by dusk, a day after at least 178 people died, the Observatory said.





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