Wednesday 5 September 2012

BEIRUT: Syrian forces shelled rebel-controlled zones of Aleppo before dawn on Wednesday, killing at least 19 people, among them seven children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Ten civilians were killed in the southern neighbourhood of Bustan al-Qasr while a total of nine bodies, including those of the children, were found in the Marjeh and Hanano neighbourhoods, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Activists have reported relentless bombardments and food shortages in rebel-held neighbourhoods of the country's commercial capital, while an AFP reporter said life in the centre of the city was relatively normal. Rebel fighters on July 20 opened a new front in the Syrian conflict by launching an attack on Aleppo.

The army has since dislodged them from several sectors, including one of their main strongholds Salaheddin, but pockets of resistance remain. On Monday, a senior commander in charge of the government's military assault on the rebels in Aleppo predicted his forces would recapture the city within 10 days.

Several areas in Damascus province including Yalda village just south of the capital were bombarded by regime forces on Wednesday, the Observatory said. It also reported shelling of the southern district of Tadamun in Damascus itself. Local activists reported plumes of smoke hanging over the neighbourhood after Tadamun came under artillery and mortar fire, and helicopters also overflew the area.

The Observatory said the bodies of nine men who had been shot dead were recovered in the city's eastern Jubar district, saying such "incidents have seen an upsurge in recent weeks in Damascus, its province and other Syrian towns." It said 37 bodies were found on Tuesday in Damascus province alone. In the central city of Homs, the rebel bastion of Khaldiyeh came under fierce mortar fire, it added.

New UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Tuesday the death toll in Syria was "staggering" and the destruction "catastrophic."


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