Last updated: 15 July, 2012

Nine killed as Syrian troops pound rebel areas

Troops bombarded rebel areas in several parts of Syria as violence killed at least 25 people on Sunday, a monitoring group said, while civilians turned to bomb shelters for protection.

A girl was among four people killed when the army rained shells on the town of Rastan, a rebel stronghold in the central province of Homs held by insurgents since February, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The army pounded several areas of the city of Homs killing two other civilians, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Meanwhile, residents of Qusayr, which has come under daily bombardment, have been building makeshift shelters under their homes or shops, an AFP correspondent in the rebel-held town said.

“This took us about a fortnight. We were 10 people working for more than 12 hours a day,” said Abu Abdo outside his tyre shop, pointing to a shelter for 30 people.

“There will be about 15 shelters dotted around the city,” said Hussein, an activist in Qusayr, which lies in Homs province near the border with Lebanon.

“Before, people had to run to the basement of a school but some were killed before they could reach it. So now we we’re digging shelters in houses so people don’t risk their lives,” he said.

The eastern oil city of Deir Ezzor on Sunday came under heavy shelling that killed three civilians and five rebel fighters, the Observatory said, especially near Albu Omar oilfield.

A male nurse also died in prison in Deir Ezzor after being tortured, it said.

Two civilians were killed and others wounded in bombing of Qalet al-Madiq in the central province of Hama. In the city of Daraa, cradle of the anti-regime uprising, a civilian and two rebels died in an assault by government forces.

In the province of Idlib, near the Turkish border, three soldiers were killed in fighting with rebels in areas of Jisr al-Shughur, the Observatory said, adding two civilians were killed at the entrance of Salqine village by machinegun fire.

An AFP reporter said there was also steady bombardment on Saturday for nearly six hours about 30 kilometres (around 18 miles) west of Aleppo, Syria’s second city and commercial hub.

On Saturday, at least 115 people were killed in violence across Syria, the Observatory said.