Beirut: Airstrikes on a Syrian rebel-held town near Damascus have killed at least 16 people, activists said Sunday, as part of intensified efforts by President Bashar Assad’s forces to secure approaches to the capital.
At least five strikes targeted buildings in the town of Douma on Friday evening, said local activist Hassan Taqulden and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The bombs killed at least three children and one woman, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on the ground in Syria.
Both the Observatory and Taqulden said the death toll was likely to rise because people were still buried under rubble.
“There are people under the rubble and we can’t help them,” Taqulden said. An online video purportedly showing the aftermath of the strikes showed a bloodied little girl with a bandage around her head while another toddler lay nearby on a hospital cot. The video appeared genuine and was consistent with Associated Press reporting.
Syrian state media said late Friday that government forces had attacked “terrorists” in Douma. The government routinely refers to rebels as terrorists, and does not acknowledge civilian casualties.
Syria’s air force stepped up its bombing of Douma over the past three months as part of a broader battle to assert government control around Damascus and prevent rebels from staging mortar and other attacks on the city from its outskirts. The rebel attacks have also killed scores of civilians.
Activists say Syria’s three-year civil war has killed more than 200,000 people.