Middle East

Syria crisis: Damascus hit by deadly clashes

Douma in Ghouta after air strikes on 13 December 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Douma in the Ghouta region of eastern Damascus has been under heavy bombardment for months

At least 28 people were killed in air strikes on the besieged rebel-held eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, a monitoring group says.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the towns of Douma and Saqba in the Ghouta region were hit hard.

Meanwhile, mortars fired by the rebels into government-held parts of Damascus killed three people and wounded 30 others, state media reported.

More than 250,000 people have died in the nearly five-year civil war.

The eastern parts of Damascus have seen some of the heaviest fighting, particularly in recent months.

The Observatory, which gathers information on the war from contacts on the ground, said the eastern suburbs were struck on Sunday by air strikes as well as rocket fire.

It was unclear if the planes that fired the missiles were Syrian or Russian, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

One of the missiles fell near a school in Douma, reportedly killing at least two children and the headteacher.

An AFP photographer at the scene described seeing men carrying children across the dust-covered rubble of destroyed buildings and streets littered with debris and shards of glass.

Syria's state news agency Sana said residential parts of Damascus were subject to a strong sustained volley of mortar fire early on Sunday, shaking people out of bed.

Sana said a child was among the dead, and most of the victims were school students.

More than 11 million people have been forced from their homes since anti-government protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in 2011 escalated into a full-scale civil war, with many different factions now fighting for control.

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