Syrian troops shelled a rebel-held suburb of the capital Damascus on Tuesday, killing at least 11 people including women and children as government forces forged ahead with offensives against rebel-held areas around the country, activists said.
The shelling on Kfar Batna appeared to be part of a concerted government push against contested and rebel-held areas around the capital. In recent months, troops have captured several suburbs of the capital, Damascus, as President Bashar Assad regime’s looks to secure its seat of power.
The state news agency said Syrian troops restored “security and stability” to much of Jobar, a key district near Kfar Batna on the edge of Damascus, after weeks of fighting. Jobar has witnessed some of the worst fighting near the capital over in recent months.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead in Tuesday’s shelling in Kfar Batna include two women and a child. Mohammed Saeed, an activist based in the nearby suburb of Douma, said the shelling began early on Tuesday and lasted several hours and put the death toll at 13.
Mr. Saeed said Kfar Batna is usually relatively quiet and shelters a large number of Syrians displaced from other, more tense suburbs of Damascus.
“Kfar Batna gets hit every day with a shell or two but today it was struck with about 60 mortar shells in four hours,” Mr. Saeed said via Skype.
An amateur video showed a man carrying into a hospital a dead baby boy who was draped in white cloth in accordance with Muslim traditions.
“Oh son,” said the man, whose arm was bandaged and shirt smeared with blood, as he placed the dead baby next to other bodies put together in a hospital room.
Activists then brought the body of what appeared to be a female relative of the man next to the dead infant. “May God forgive you,” the man said as looked at the woman’s covered body.
Another video showed the dead baby boy before he was covered laying on a hospital bed, his mouth open and his face covered with blood. A man in the room said the dead boy was three months old. “May God help us,” the man said.
A third video showed seven bodies lined in a room, two of them of children. Names of the dead, who were covered in white sheets, were handwritten on the white covers. One of the dead, next to the two children was identified as “Nour Turshi and her children.”
The videos appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting on the events depicted.
The United Nations has estimated that more than 6,000 children are among the some 93,000 people killed in Syria’s more than 2-year-old conflict, which started with largely peaceful protests against the rule of President Bashar Assad. The uprising escalated into an armed rebellion in response to a brutal government crackdown on the protest movement.
Activists say more than 100,000 people have been killed since the crisis began.
The Observatory said that in the northern province of Aleppo, rebels were able to destroy an Army vehicle using a Russian-made Konkurs anti-tank missile that they recently received from Gulf Arab states. Observatory director Rami Abdul-Rahman said the rebels appear to have received large numbers of such missiles in recent days.
Activists said recently that Syria’s rebels have received shipments of more powerful weapons from Gulf allies in recent weeks, particularly anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, that have already helped stall aggressive new advances by regime forces.
The group said the fighting in the central city of Homs, where army troops launched a new campaign to capture rebel-held neighbourhoods Saturday, concentrated in the rebellious neighbourhood of Bab Houd and that there are casualties on both sides.
The state news agency said that troops advanced in Bab Houd, capturing several buildings and killing and wounding many “terrorists,” the term that the government uses to refer to rebels.
On Tuesday, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that it said targeted a centre run by pro-government militiamen in the central town of Sabboura. It claimed that “tens” of pro-government gunmen were killed in the attack on Monday.
The group said the assault was carried out by two fighters, one of whom opened fire at the guards while the other drove into the centre and blew himself up.
SANA said Monday that three people were killed and 18 injured in a suicide bombing near the cultural centre in Sabboura. Two suicide bombers detonated a pickup truck packed with about 1.5 tons of explosives in front of the cultural centre, it said.