Dozens dead in Syria air raids

  • 17/08/2015
(file, Reuters)
(file, Reuters)

At least 82 people have been killed in Syrian regime air raids on a town outside Damascus, a monitor says, as the UN's top humanitarian chief held talks with government officials.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said at least 200 people were also injured in a string of 10 strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma on Sunday (local time).

Civilians accounted for most of those killed, it said, and the death toll was expected to rise further because many of the wounded were in serious condition.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said locals had gathered after a first strike hit a market in the town to help evacuate the wounded when the additional raids hit.

At least six raids hit the market, with the others striking nearby in the centre of town, Abdel Rahman said.

A video posted online by activists of the aftermath of the attacks showed an intersection strewn with rubble and twisted metal.

The fronts of several buildings nearby appeared to have been sheared off by the force of the blasts, and many cars lay overturned and crumpled.

Douma lies in the rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta, a region outside the capital that is the regular target of government air strikes.

Eastern Ghouta has been under government siege for nearly two years, with regime forces tightening the blockade since the start of 2015.

Sunday's strikes on Douma came as new United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien held talks with government officials in Damascus on his first trip to Syria since being appointed.

O'Brien, who succeeded Valerie Amos in May, met with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, state media reported.

Official news agency SANA said O'Brien had expressed willingness to work with the government to alleviate humanitarian suffering in the country.

Close to 12 million people have been uprooted by Syria's conflict, with over four million becoming refugees and another 7.6 million internally displaced.