Government Terrorist Attack Targets Rebel Town in Syria, Kills Hundreds of Civilians
August 17, 2015 Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Al Jazeera America & Reuters & The Associated Press
According to local eyewitnesses, at least 110 people are dead and 300 were injured in a string of regime air raids that included an attack on a markeplace in the rebel-held town of Douma near Damascus. This was the second time the marketplace was hit in the past week, as on Wednesday another airstrike there had killed 27 people. UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien stated he was 'appalled' by reported attack on market and "by the total disrespect for civilian life in this conflict."
Syrian Airstrikes Kill 110 in Rebel Area Near Damascus Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 16, 2015) -- Tit-for-tat attacks in and around metro Damascus have picked up in recent days, and soared dramatically today with the Syrian military launching airstrikes against the marketplace in the rebel-held town of Douma, just outside Damascus, killing at least 110 and wounding over 300 others.
This was the second time the marketplace was hit in the past week, as on Wednesday another airstrike there had killed 27 people. Today's incident involved a series of strikes, and much of the toll was from those hit in subsequent strikes trying to evacuate the wounded from the first attack.
The Syrian government couched the attacks as retaliatory in nature, saying today's strikes were aimed at the headquarters of the Jaish al-Islam, which had attacked government positions in Harasta on Saturday, and released a video bragging about their success.
It is so far unclear how many Jaish al-Islam fighters were actually hit in the salvo, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other groups on the ground suggested the vast majority of the casualties were civilian bystanders in the market, not combatants.
(August 16, 2015) -- At least 110 people have been killed in a string of Syrian government air strikes on a marketplace in Douma, a rebel-held town near Damascus, activists said.
At least 300 people were injured, with the death toll, most of them civilians, likely to rise as many of the wounded were in a serious condition, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday. The civil defence in Douma put the death toll at 100.
Firas Abdullah, a local photographer in Douma, told Al Jazeera that the market was the main one in the town. "The market has always been crowded with people buying and selling to make a living," he said.
The attack on the market is the second in a week. On Wednesday, air strikes on the area left at least 27 people killed, Abdullah said.
Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, who is reporting from Beirut, said the death toll was so high as after the first strike, people had gathered to help evacuate the wounded, when more raids hit.
Rami Abdelrahman of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said his information suggested that most of the dead were civilians.
A video posted online by activists of the aftermath of the attacks showed an intersection strewn with rubble and twisted metal.
The fronts of several buildings nearby appeared to have been sheared off by the force of the blasts, and several vehicles were overturned and crumpled amid the rubble. The civil defence posted the following video it said was from the aftermath of the attack:
BEIRUT, August 16, 2015) - A Syrian government air strike northeast of Damascus killed at least 80 people in a marketplace on Sunday, rescue workers in the rebel-held area and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
At least 200 more people were wounded in the attack on Douma, about 15 km (10 miles) northeast of Damascus, according to the British-based Observatory and the local arm of Syrian Civil Defense, a rescue service operating in rebel areas.
The Observatory said at least 10 rockets were fired during the air strike and accused the warplanes of bombing again after rescue workers had arrived at the scene.
"This is a documented massacre," said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory.
A Syrian military source said air force strikes on Douma and nearby Harasta targeted the headquarters of the rebel group Islam Army. The insurgent group attacked government positions in Harasta on Saturday.
A video released by Islam Army showed its leader Zahran Alloush taking part in the attack. The group is one of the most powerful insurgent factions operating near Damascus, the seat of President Bashar al-Assad's power more than four years into the civil war that has killed a quarter of a million people.
Another video bearing the symbol of the Syrian Civil Defense rescue service appeared to show dozens of bodies lined up on the ground. A photo showed civil defense workers wrapping bodies in white shrouds.
Another video showed rescuers carrying bodies in a street strewn with vegetables and debris.
Syrian Civil Defense published the names of 60 people so far identified as killed in the attack. "There are tens waiting to be identified," it said on its Facebook page.
An official for the rescue service told Reuters the videos it published were shot on Sunday and a person heard on camera giving the date as August 15 had done so by mistake.
To the west of Damascus, battles were reported on Sunday between the Syrian army, backed by its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and insurgents in the town of Zabadani near the Lebanese border, the Observatory said.
A ceasefire between the warring sides in Zabadani and two villages in the northwest collapsed on Saturday when talks aimed at securing a longer cessation of hostilities failed. UN Aid Chief Slams 'Horrifying' Disregard of Civilian Life in Syria Al Jazeera and The Associated Press
(August 17, 2015) -- The United Nations humanitarian chief has condemned attacks against civilians in Syria, a day after more than 100 people were killed in what activists said were regime air raids on the rebel-held suburb of Douma, near Damascus.
New U.N. aid chief Stephen O'Brien's comments came as sources told Al Jazeera that even more air strikes were carried out on Douma on Monday. "I am horrified by the total disrespect for civilian life in this conflict," O'Brien said, a day after one of the bloodiest incidents in the four-year war.
O'Brien said he was "particularly appalled" by reports about Sunday's airstrikes on Douma that reportedly killed at least 110 civilians, and said those attacks "must stop.”
Syrian opposition activists have called those airstrikes a "massacre.” In one makeshift clinic in Douma, whole sections of floor were covered with rows of the dead, as volunteers worked to wrap each victim in a white shroud. "I appeal to each and every party to this protracted conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law," O’Brien said.
He noted that the U.N. and other partners are providing assistance to millions of Syrians in need, including by crossing conflict lines and international borders. However, O'Brien said, "I remain extremely concerned for the welfares of the 4.6 million people stuck in hard-to-reach and besieged areas."
O'Brien also lambasted armed groups for cutting off water in Damascus, saying: "It is unacceptable for those engaged in conflict to use access to water and other services as a weapon of war."
Water cuts have been used in the conflict by rival groups in the conflict and the most affected areas have been Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and former commercial center. Meanwhile, O'Brien met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and expressed a willingness to work with the government to alleviate humanitarian suffering, state media said.
On Monday morning, Syria's air force reportedly launched three more airstrikes on Douma. Other areas of the Damascus countryside like Ghouta were also reportedly targeted. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the latest strikes.
The Syrian government has been trying to push back against rebel-held territories, in order to protect the capital Damascus.
At least 300 other people were also injured in the strikes on Sunday, with the death toll likely to rise as many of the wounded were in a serious condition, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Firas Abdullah, a local photographer in Douma, told Al Jazeera that the market was the main meeting place in Douma. "The market has always been crowded with people buying and selling to make a living,” he said.
The attack on the market is the second in a week. On Wednesday, airstrikes on the area left at least 27 people dead, Abdullah said.
A video posted online by activists of the aftermath of the attacks showed an intersection strewn with rubble and twisted metal. The fronts of several buildings nearby appeared to have been sheared off by the force of the blasts, and several vehicles were overturned and crumpled amid the rubble.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif held talks in Moscow on Monday to discuss the way forward on the stalled Syria peace talks. Both Lavrov and Zarif said that there should be no preconditions for the resumption of talks.
Syrian opposition leaders and their foreign backers have insisted that President Bashar al-Assad should not have any role in a future government, something that the Assad government had rejected.
Syria's conflict has killed more than 250,000 people and wounded at least a million.
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