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Syria bombs Damascus suburbs to keep rebels out
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 13 people — eight children and five women — were killed in the Moadamiyeh blast. The group, which relies on contacts in Syria, also reported deadly airstrikes in two other suburbs, saying at least 45 people were killed in and around the capital Monday, including 10 rebel fighters.
The Syrian government offered its own account of the blast in Moadamiyeh, saying “terrorists” fired a shell at the neighborhood, hitting a residential building and causing an undefined number of casualties.
The destruction in the videos, however, appeared consistent with an airstrike, not a shell attack.
Rebel fighters said the strike on Moadamiyeh came amid a government offensive to push rebel fighters from there and the adjacent southwest suburb of Daraya.
Rebels moved into the two suburbs weeks ago but have been bogged down in clashes with government troops since then. Both areas put rebel forces within striking distance of a key military airport in the Mezzeh neighborhood.
The Observatory said Monday that the government had blown up homes between the airport and the neighborhoods to establish a buffer zone.
One fighter in the area reached Monday said the government appeared set on pushing the rebels out.
“The noise from the bombardment is astounding today,” said the fighter, who gave only his first name, Iyad, for security reasons. “The regime is using all kinds of weaponry.”
The United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have been killed since Syria’s crisis began with anti-regime protests. The conflict has since descended into civil war, with rebel brigades across the country fighting Mr. Assad’s forces.
International diplomacy has failed to end the conflict.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen told a defense conference in Sweden that Syria is more politically, religiously and ethnically complex than Libya, where NATO airstrikes in 2011 helped rebels overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
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