Air Strikes, Artillery Fire Near Damascus Kill 15


Damascus: At least 15 civilians, including six children, were killed on Thursday in air strikes and artillery fire on rebel-held territory near Syria’s capital Damascus, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was not immediately possible to determine where the strikes on the Eastern Ghouta region were carried out by the Syrian regime or its ally Russia.

Eastern Ghouta has long been a rebel stronghold, and is regularly targeted by government air strikes and artillery fire.

The Observatory, a Britain-based monitor, reported air strikes and artillery fire on the towns of Douma, Harasta, Arbin, Zamalka and Saqba in the region.

An AFP correspondent in Eastern Ghouta said warplanes had been overheard since the early hours of the morning.

Opposition fighters meanwhile launched a barrage of rockets at Damascus, the Observatory and an AFP correspondent in the capital said.

Syrian state television reported seven people were wounded in the fire. Elsewhere, the Observatory said five civilians including a baby were killed in regime rocket fire overnight in the south of Daraa city.

The violence came ahead of an announcement today by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Syrian government and rebels had signed a ceasefire deal and agreed to start peace talks.

More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.