December 21, 2014
Activists: Air raids in central Syria kill 26
Air raids on rebel-held towns across Syria have killed 26 people, activists said, two days after the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding an end to indiscriminate shelling and aerial attacks.
Syria's almost three-year-old conflict has raged on despite peace talks that began in Geneva last month and the passage of the UN resolution, a rare moment of unity between the West and Russia, President Bashar al-Assad's strongest backer.
Two women and 10 children were among the dead in government air raids on the town of al-Neshabieh, in the eastern outskirts of Damascus, near a railway marking the frontline between Islamist fighters and Assad's forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants, and in the province of Homs to the north.
"Two simultaneous raids hit Neshabieh first. People were pulling the bodies of a women and her two children from one house when the planes came back and hit the crowed, killing another nine," activist Abu Sakr told Reuters from the area.
He said artillery fire from a battalion based at Damascus airport and the nearby town of Mleiha then hit the town. Fifty people were wounded in the combined bombardment, he said.
Photos taken by activists, purportedly at a field hospital in the area, showed a girl's body covered in a white shroud, and the decapitated bodies of several men. Reuters could not independently verify the pictures.
"We barely managed to take the bodies before the artillery hit," said Abu Abdo, a rescue worker at the field hospital.
In Homs province, activists reported air raids on al-Hosn, a Sunni town near the Crusader castle of Crac des Chevaliers in a valley mostly inhabited by Christians, who have mostly stayed on the sidelines in the conflict between Assad and rebels.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots opposition group, said six people were killed in the attack on al-Hosn. Footage showed the bodies of two people amid the rubble, one of whom was identified as a woman.