Infographic: Syria’s casualties after two years of civil war
Rebels claim to shoot down Syrian helicopter near Aleppo
Video posted to opposition social media websites Monday purports to show Syrian rebels downing a government forces helicopter at the airport near Aleppo, as shelling continues near Damascus. Mana Rabiee reports.
Syria’s civil war has burst into central Damascus and its indiscriminate violence has put civilians in the firing line.
Thursday’s powerful bomb which killed more than 60 people in the capital’s Mazraa district may have targeted President Bashar al-Assad’s ruling Baath Party or the embassy of his ally Russia.
But many of the victims were ordinary Damascenes in the wrong place at the wrong time - including children packed into an elementary school directly behind the Baath Party offices.
“It’s in horrendous shape, it’s a war zone,” said the mother of a girl who attends Abdullah ibn al Zubair school, describing shattered windows and iron bars hanging from broken concrete.
“Typhoid and hepatitis outbreaks are spreading. At least 70,000 people are dead, and there are 850,000 refugees. After covering the battle for Damascus for a month, my colleague – photographer Goran Tomasevic – declared the situation a “bloody stalemate” this week.
“I watched both sides mount assaults, some trying to gain just a house or two, others for bigger prizes, only to be forced back by sharpshooters, mortars or sprays of machine-gun fire,” Tomasevic, a gifted and brave photographer, wrote in a chilling first-hand account. “As in the ruins of Beirut, Sarajevo or Stalingrad, it is a sniper’s war.” - David Rohde on why he believes Obama’s Syria policy is a failure.
A car bomb killed 53 people and wounded 200 in central Damascus on Thursday when it blew up on a busy highway close to ruling Baath Party offices and the Russian Embassy, Syrian television said.
TV footage showed charred and bloodied bodies strewn across the street after the blast, which state media said was the result of a suicide bombing by “terrorists” battling President Bashar al-Assad.
Central Damascus has been relatively insulated from almost two years of unrest and civil war in which around 70,000 people have been killed across the country, but the bloodshed has shattered suburbs around the capital.
Rebels who control districts to the south and east of Damascus have attacked Assad’s power base for nearly a month and struck with devastating bombs over the last year.
More than 100 people were shot, stabbed or possibly burned to death by government forces in the Syrian city of Homs, a monitoring group said on Thursday, and fierce fighting raged across the country.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said women and children were among the 106 people killed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad forces who stormed Basatin al-Hasawiya, a poor district on the edge of Homs, on Tuesday.
The massacre in the central city came the same day twin explosions killed over 80 people at Aleppo’s university in the north, according to the group.
Reuters cannot independently confirm reports due to reporting restrictions in Syria.
Two explosions tore through one of Syria’s biggest universities on the first day of student exams on Tuesday, killing at least 52 people and wounding dozens, a monitoring group said.
Bloodshed has disrupted civilian life across Syria since a violent government crackdown in early 2011 on peaceful demonstrations for democratic reform turned the unrest into an armed insurgency bent on overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad.
More than 50 countries asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to refer the crisis to the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes people for genocide and war crimes. But Russia - Assad’s long-standing ally and arms supplier - blocked the initiative, calling it “ill-timed and counterproductive.
The worst winter storm in two decades has hit the eastern Mediterranean this week, bringing destruction and death to Syria and its neighbors who are already dealing with a refugee crisis from the country’s civil war.
Opposition activists in Syria, where war has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and cut off access to food, fuel and power for cities and towns, say dozens of people have died there in four days of relentless extreme weather.
READ ON: Winter storm brings devastation to Syria and neighbors