Last updated: 12 April, 2013

Army shelling kills 7 in eastern Damascus, says watchdog

Rebels in Aleppo in northern Syria severely tortured a 54-year-old Kurdish man who died after being thrown out onto the streets of the city’s embattled Sheikh Maqsud district, a watchdog said Friday.

“Arab and Kurdish medical and political sources in Aleppo city have confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that Ibrahim Khalil died after being tortured by the Badr Martyrs’ battalion,” the Britain-based Observatory said.

Khalil was not a political activist, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

“Like dozens of others, he was arbitrarily detained and tortured by an armed group whose leaders have proven in the past to be nothing more than warlords, taking advantage of a security vacuum in areas no longer under regime control.”

Elsewhere, fierce battles raged in the northeastern city of Qamishli, a majority Kurdish town, pitting Islamist Al-Nusra Front fighters against regular troops of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The army also pounded rebel enclaves near Qamishli, and clashes took place at the city’s entrance and near its airport, the Observatory reported.

Regime troops pounded Tawq Melh and Tal Hamis in the majority Kurdish province of Hasakeh, also in the north, added the group which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground for its information.

In eastern Damascus, at least eight people — among them four rebels — were killed in regime shelling of the district of Jubar.

Several mortar rounds meanwhile hit Barzeh in northern Damascus and Al-Hajar al-Aswad in the south, the Observatory said, referring to two flashpoint districts on the edges of the capital where rebel groups have set up cells.

According to a preliminary toll distributed by the Observatory, at least 53 people were killed in violence across the country on Friday.

The United Nations says that more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict, which last month entered its third year.

Friday’s violence comes a day after at least 152 people were reported killed — 65 rebels, 45 civilians and 42 soldiers.