Syria mortar fire kills 12 in Damascus as rights group accuses regime of barrel bombing civilians

Rebel fighters fire an anti-aircraft weapon towards what they said was a regime helicopter dropping aid to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad stationed in a besieged area in Maaret al-Naaman village, in Idlib, April 28, 2014. Reuters

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Syrian state media said mortar shells exploded Tuesday in central Damascus, killing 12 people and wounding scores.

The official SANA news agency said four shells struck in the capital's Shaghour neighborhood on Tuesday morning, as the violence in Syria's three-year civil war continued unabated. More than 150,000 people have been killed already and millions displaced from their homes.

An official at the Damascus Police Command told The Associated Press that at least 50 people were wounded in the attack and that two of the mortar shells hit a school complex. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

SANA said terrorists were behind the attacks - a term used by President Bashar Assad's government for rebels fighting to oust him.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Rebels have frequently fired mortars into the capital from Damascus' opposition-held suburbs.

The Damascus mortar attacks came as an international rights organization accused the Syrian government of indiscriminately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure with crude bombs in rebel-held districts of the northern city of Aleppo.

Human Rights Watch says its activists have documented 85 locations in Aleppo's opposition-held districts that government aircraft shelled with barrel bombs - makeshift, shrapnel-packed explosive devices rolled out of helicopters.

The New York-based group says in a report Tuesday that the attacks occurred between Feb. 22 and April 2.

Syrian emergency personal work at the site of a reported barrel bomb attack by Syrian government forces, April 20, 2014, in the northern city of Aleppo
Syrian emergency personal work at the site of a reported barrel bomb attack by Syrian government forces, April 20, 2014, in the northern city of Aleppo.
Getty
The U.N. Security Council is meeting on Wednesday to review whether Syria's warring sides are complying with a resolution demanding the cessation of the use of barrel bomb and other weapons in populated areas.

HRW activists identified the locations after interviewing witnesses and analyzing satellite imagery and video and photographic evidence.

Comments