At least 23 dead in air strikes near Damascus


BEIRUT: At least 23 people were killed and dozens wounded in Syrian government air strikes on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

The strikes killed at least four children and some civil defence personnel in the town of Deir al-Asafir in Eastern Ghouta, where around 2,700 families live, the British-based
Observatory said.

“All through the ceasefire clashes have continued in Eastern Ghouta and regime forces have advanced…they are now less than 2 km from the Deir al-Asafir area,” Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said.

“They are trying to surround Deir al-Asafir.”

A temporary truce introduced over a month ago has greatly reduced violence in Syria but it excludes groups such as Islamic State and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

The eastern districts of Damascus are controlled by different factions, including rebel forces covered by the truce as well as Nusra Front.

The Observatory and rebel group Jaish al-Islam reported clashes between government forces and rebels and air strikes on the northeast edge of Damascus between Jobar and Douma on Wednesday.

“In Douma air strikes completely destroyed one of the town´s mosques in a direct hit,” a Jaish al-Islam statement said.

Jaish al-Islam is one of the biggest rebel factions fighting President Bashar al-Assad in western Syria and an influential member of the main Saudi-backed opposition council, the High Negotiations Committee.


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