DHAKA: Seventeen people, including 10 women, were killed overnight by shelling in the southern Syrian town of Deraa, where the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted 15 months ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The group, which monitors violence in Syria through a network of sources inside the country, reported fighting in the town between the army and rebels after the shelling.
In the capital Damascus, which was once relatively secure from the unrest, it said explosions were heard overnight after some of the fiercest fighting between rebels and security forces loyal to Assad.
The main road south from Damascus to Deraa was blocked by burning tires, it said.
In addition to the deaths in Deraa, the Observatory said 44 civilians were killed across the country on Friday, nearly half of them in the central province of Homs and in Damascus districts and suburbs.
Some 300 UN observers are in Syria to monitor a truce between Assad’s forces and rebels that envoy Kofi Annan declared on April 12 but was never implemented.
Now reduced to observing the violence, they have already verified the massacre in Houla, a town where 108 men, women and children were slain on May 25.
The UN peacekeeping chief said Syrian troops and pro-Assad militia were probably responsible.
As more and more civilians flee their homes to escape fighting, sick or wounded people are finding it hard to reach medical services or buy food, said a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva.
‘The gunfire is so loud I think some bullets could have hit the house. I`m afraid to go out to see what is happening’, one Damascus resident said.
Activists said rebels attacked security barracks and shabbiha gunmen had been called in to help confront them, reports The Jerusalem Post.
BDST: 1425 HRS, JUN 9, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor
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