Fresh attacks rock Syrian rebels
beirut» Airstrikes hit a women’s prison and a clinic in rebel-held parts of Syria on Saturday, killing and wounding scores of people amid clashes on multiple fronts between government forces and insurgent groups in some of the country’s worst violence in weeks, opposition activists said.
The airstrikes, of which some activists said included Russian air raids, concentrated on the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, the central province of Hama and suburbs of the capital Damascus that have come under attack by insurgent groups over the past week.
One of the airstrikes hit a main street in the Damascus suburb of Hamouriyeh, killing at least 16 people and wounded more than 50, activists said. The airstrikes caused wide destruction in the area.
The U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said in a statement released in Geneva that he is deeply concerned by the recent escalation of violence in Syria, highlighting that it undermines a Dec. 30 cease-fire brokered by Turkey, Iran and Russia who back opposing parties in the conflict.
The statement said de Mistura had communicated with the foreign ministers of the three countries, appealing to them to exert urgent efforts to uphold the cease-fire.
Speaking after meeting on Saturday with the U.N. envoy in Geneva as part of a fresh round of Syrian peace talks, Nasr al-Hariri, the head of the main opposition delegation, lashed out at Assad’s “killing machine.”
“This is the fault of warplanes,” he told reporters. “These are the ones who claim to fight terrorism who are responsible for this horrible massacre in Hamouna.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes on Hamouriyeh killed 16, including eight women and children, and wounded more than 50. The Local Coordination said 18 were killed and dozens were wounded.