Report: Syria bombing women, children

Sept. 19, 2012 at 1:45 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Women and children were killed and injured by indiscriminate bombing carried out by Syrian forces in Damascus neighborhoods Wednesday, human rights groups said.

Rebel forces said they had chased government troops from a northern border crossing into Turkey after two days of fighting, The New York Times reported.

The rebels overran the post at Tal Abyad, south of the Turkish town of Sanliurfa, early Wednesday in Raqqa Province, CNN reported. Rebel forces took the Tal Abyad border gate, tearing down the Syrian flag, burning pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad and firing guns in the air. Turkish forces on the other side of the crossing joined in the celebration, the report said.

Thousands of Syrian civilians have sought refuge from the conflict in neighboring Turkey, where the government is sympathetic to the rebel effort to oust Assad.

In Damascus, activists said residents of the southern suburb of Hajar al-Aswad were desperate as government forces closed in under cover of airstrikes and heavy artillery, the BBC reported. Thirty people were killed in the capital Wednesday, including three civilians who died when government forces bombed a bakery, CNN said.

Amnesty International said civilian casualties had risen dramatically from indiscriminate air and artillery strikes in the cities of Idlib and Hama. Rebel forces say the death toll has exceeded 26,000 since the conflict began last March.

"They are using in equal measure air-delivered, large, old, Soviet-era unguided bombs -- free-fall bombs -- the opposite of smart bombs," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International senior crisis response adviser. "They are dropped over an area. There's no way you can target them at a specific target or specific building."

Assad has discussed the possibility of using chemical weapons, and even of transferring them to Hezbollah, said a Syrian general who has defected to the opposition.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said it had documented the deaths of 148 people Wednesday, including 13 women, 10 children and one under torture. The government put the total for the day at 60 "terrorists" killed, a state-run TV station reported.

More than a third of the deaths, 56, occurred in Damascus and the surrounding area, SNHR said. Another 34 died in Aleppo, where activists said government forces bombarded central areas surrounding the Old City.

Sixteen were reported killed in Idlib and Dier Alzoor.

Assad huddled with Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Iranian television said the meeting was set to "exchange views with different Syrian groups to find a way out of the crisis which would be acceptable for all parties," CNN reported.

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