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Syria regime raids kill 37 civilians near Damascus: monitor


Map of Syria. Image source lonelyplanet

Map of Syria. Image source lonelyplanet

At least 37 civilians were killed in Syrian government air strikes on Eastern Ghouta near Damascus on Wednesday, as a barrage of deadly rebel rocket fire hit the capital, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 120 people were injured in the raids, several of them seriously, and that the updated death toll was likely to rise further.

The air raids hit the towns of Douma, Saqba, Kafr Batna and Hammouriyeh in Eastern Ghouta, a rebel stronghold region outside the capital.

An AFP photographer in Douma saw more than a dozen bodies in makeshift plastic shrouds in a field hospital where medical workers struggled to aid the wounded.

He also saw two plastic shrouds opened at the top to reveal the faces of two children, their skin yellow and blood-speckled.

Inside a clinic, a young boy wept and hugged his legs — one roughly bandaged — as he sat on a blood-smeared floor next to other injured residents.

The strikes came as rebels fired dozens of rockets into Damascus, killing at least four people, according to Syria’s interior ministry.

The ministry, quoted by state television, said “four people were killed and 58 others were wounded, in addition to material damage”, in residential neighbourhoods of Damascus.

The Observatory, without specifying which attack came first, put the toll at eight killed, seven civilians and a soldiers, and said rebels had fired a barrage of at least 50 rockets.

Rebels often fire into the Syrian capital from rear bases on the outskirts of Damascus, including at times barrages of hundreds of missiles.

Rights groups have condemned indiscriminate rebel rocket fire into the capital as amounting to war crimes.

The government, for its part, regularly carries out air strikes against rebel-held areas on the outskirts of Damascus, particularly Eastern Ghouta which is also under regime siege.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International accused the government of war crimes against Eastern Ghouta residents, saying heavy aerial bombardment was compounding misery created by the blockade.

More than 240,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict since it broke out in March 2011, and millions have been forced to flee their homes.

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