Dozens killed in bombings in Damascus, eastern Syria

At least five children and two rescue workers were killed Friday in a Damascus suburb during a government bombing campaign amid escalating violence in and around the capital despite a truce, activists reported.

State media said that rebels shelled government-controlled neighbourhoods of Damascus, killing at least three civilians.

Meanwhile, activists said militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group blew up a car bomb at a gathering of displaced Syrians in the eastern part of the country, killing dozens.


This photo provided on Nov. 17, 2017 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)

Friday marks the fourth day of violence in Damascus and its suburbs, despite a truce brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran that went into effect in August. So far, over 40 people have been killed, mostly in rebel-held suburbs but also in the government-controlled capital.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Ghouta Media Center said five children were killed Friday in the eastern Ghouta suburb of Douma by government shelling. The two groups said at least two volunteers from the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets first responders, were killed in airstrikes during search and rescue efforts in Douma, and that another two civilians were killed in Douma.

Meanwhile, Syria’s state news agency SANA said three civilians were killed in the rebel shelling of al-Hal Souk neighbourhood in Damascus. Rebels fired several mortars into a Damascus neighbourhood a day earlier, killing at least 10 civilians, including the coach of the national karate team, Fadhel Radhi.

Radhi, 69, was a veteran of the sport, establishing it in Syria. He was killed when a shell landed near him as he left al-Majd Club in the Bab Mosala district in Damascus.

Fighters from the insurgent Ahrar al-Sham group on Wednesday attacked a military compound in Harasta, a town in the eastern Ghouta suburbs, setting off intense fighting with government forces.

An aid warehouse was damaged by the fighting, spoiling food stocks.


Syrian residents are seen reacting after shelling in Douma. (Bassam Khabieh/Reuters)

Eastern Ghouta suburbs have been largely under a tight blockade by pro-government forces, despite the August “de-escalation” agreement that was supposed to allow in humanitarian aid. The UN estimates there are around 350,000 people trapped by the blockade.

The Observatory also said that at least 26 displaced Syrians were killed when ISIS militants blew up a car bomb in the eastern Deir el-Zour province in an area adjacent to an oil field that has been recently cleared of ISIS by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. It was not possible to independently confirm the reports. ISIS has previously targeted gatherings of displaced citizens. Syria’s urban centres have been cleared of ISIS, which has been driven out of its major strongholds across the country.

Iraqi forces backed by the U.S.-led coalition retook last week the last town in the country that was held by ISIS.

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