Syrian warplanes hit Palestinian refugee camp | News | DW | 16.12.2012
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Syrian warplanes hit Palestinian refugee camp

Syrian warplanes are reported to have bombarded a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus. Activists said the attack appeared to be part of efforts by government troops to put down the rebellion in the capital.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday that one of the attacks targeted a local hospital, but news agencies also quoted local residents who said a missile had hit a mosque in the Yarmuk refugee camp. The mosque is reported to have been functioning as a makeshift shelter for around 600 people who had fled fighting in neighboring districts of Damascus.

There were conflicting reports on how many people were killed in the attack, with figures ranging from a minimum of eight to a maximum of 25.

The London-based Observatory said the attack on the Palestinian camp was one of just six strikes on districts in the south of the capital on Sunday.

"The army feels it has to step up its campaign to suppress the insurgency in southern Damascus, and that it cannot fight off rebels without resorting to air power," the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman told the AFP news agency.

"As for the Palestinians, they are divided over the conflict, and are fighting on both sides," Rahman added.

Rebels claim to have seized army base

These, like many reports coming out of Syria, could not be independently verified due to major restrictions on journalists working in the country.

Meanwhile, an Islamist rebel group claims to have seized control of an infantry base in the northern city of Aleppo. The Al-Tawheed Brigade said in a statement posted on the group's website that fighters had “fully liberated” the facility from soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad.

"At least 100 soldiers have been taken prisoner and 150 decided to join us. The soldiers were all hungry because of the siege," a man identified simply as a Tawheed Brigade commander told the Reuters news agency.

The rebels and government troops have been fighting for control over Aleppo for the past few months.

Activists estimate that more than 43,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad's rule began with peaceful demonstrations in March 2011.

pfd/dr (Reuters, dpa, AFP)