Last updated: 30 June, 2012

Syria violence kills 25, Douma besieged

At least 83 people were killed, mostly civilians, in violence across Syria on Saturday, and hundreds more were trapped in Douma as regime forces stormed the town in Damascus province, monitors said.

In the single most serious incident, mortar fire killed 30 civilians who were attending a funeral in the town of Zamalka, 10 kilometres (six miles) east of the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said.

The Observatory did not give any further details on the Zamalka incident but published two videos from people on the ground.

The first showed several dozen people, mostly men waving Syrian revolutionary flags and shouting slogans as they accompanied the funeral cortege, when the picture was interrupted by an explosion.

The second, which could not be confirmed as being shot at the same scene, showed people running away from a cloud of dust that gradually dissipated to show numerous bodies lying on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Observatory urged the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to “urgently send medical teams” to Douma.

“The security forces have seized control of the main hospital in Douma,” the Observatory said. “There are no doctors in the town, though dozens of wounded need urgent care.”

The Britain-based monitoring group warned of a “catastrophic humanitarian situation” in the city, which “has been subjected to a fierce military campaign since June 21.”

Violence has killed “scores and wounded hundreds” there since regime forces escalated attacks on the outlying suburb of Damascus, the group said.

“More than 100 families remain in the town, unable to flee and forced to take refuge in shelters,” it said, adding that most of those trapped were women and children, after the majority of the men had fled repeated arrest sweeps.

The Observatory said those killed on Saturday included a civilian shot dead by a sniper in Douma; a rebel in Daraa, southern Syria; a family of three killed by shelling in the northwestern province of Idlib and 14 soldiers.

Douma has seen frequent fighting between rebels and troops in recent months.

The watchdog also reported fierce clashes in the capital itself and the suburbs of Damascus, with regime troops using helicopters to shell several neighbourhoods on Saturday.

Elsewhere, the army shelled Rastan in the central province of Homs, the watchdog said, adding that the town has been under rebel control since February.

Meanwhile, an explosion rocked the Qaboon district of Damascus, the Observatory said, and a blast hit the country’s second city Aleppo in the north. No casualties were reported.

Another blast hit an oil pipeline in a rebel-held area of the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

The latest violence came amid fierce countrywide clashes and a day after 75 people were killed nationwide.

More than 15,800 people have been killed in violence since an anti-regime uprising broke out in March 2011, the Observatory says.