33 dead as Syria army, rebels trade fire around Damascus

AFP , Wednesday 17 Jun 2015

At least 33 people were killed in the Damascus region as the army bombarded a rebel-held town and the rebels fired rockets into the capital, a monitoring group said Wednesday.

At least 24 people, including five children, were killed by government air strikes and rocket fire on Douma, a rebel-held suburb some 10 kilometres (six miles) northeast of the centre of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

An AFP photographer saw wounded children being brought into a makeshift medical centre in the town after the Tuesday afternoon bombardment.

A man tried to comfort a weeping boy lying on a stretcher with gauze on his head, while nearby a small girl cried as she waited for treatment, her face spattered with blood.

Later, the rebels fired rockets into the heart of the capital, striking Arnus Garden, a popular evening retreat.

A witness told AFP that two rockets struck the garden between 10:30 pm (1930 GMT) and 11:00 pm, and that he saw dead and wounded people.

The Observatory said nine people were killed. State media said they included five women.

"They gave us a present for Ramadan," a resident said sarcastically, referring to the Muslim fasting month that begins on Thursday.

In northern Syria, the Observatory said four children were among seven civilians killed in renewed rebel rocket fire on government-held areas of second city Aleppo on Tuesday.

The fire came despite UN condemnation of a massive rebel barrage on Monday that killed at least 36 civilians, 14 of them children.

Control of Aleppo is divided between rebels in the east and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the west.

In southern Syria, the Observatory said 14 children were among 18 people killed in government air strikes on the rebel-held town of Eastern Ghariyah in Daraa province on Tuesday.

"The children were killed while at a centre for the study of the Koran," the Observatory said.

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