More than 200 killed, including children, by Syrian regime forces: activists


A total of 206 people, including at least 20 children have been killed by Syrian regime forces on Friday in heavy shelling of opposition held areas in the Damascus suburbs several districts of Aleppo and Deir Ezzour, the activist group Local Coordination Committees (LCC) reported.

The group reported that at least 40 were killed in what it said was a “massacre” in Deir Ezzour. The town’s local LCC branch said the massacre was cause army helicopter shelling.

Activists reported heavy shelling by Syrian forces on several districts of Aleppo, scene of the fiercest fighting since the conflict first entangled the commercial and manufacturing hub a month ago.

Several houses were destroyed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, also reporting a bombardment on the town of Aazaz to the north.

At least 50 unidentified bodies were also found shot dead in the last 24 hours, notably in Aleppo and Damascus, it said, amid proliferating reports of summary executions.

Rebels said they were digging in for a war of attrition in Aleppo, where the regime had warned last month of “the mother of all battles” for the city.

“We don’t have enough weapons, they (the Syrian army) don’t have enough men,” said Abu Haidar, a rebel fighter in the southwestern Saif al-Dawla district.

Both the government and opposition forces say attacks on Aleppo province are aimed at cutting arms supply routes to the rebels in Syria’s second city, once a thriving metropolis of 2.7 million people but now largely in ruins.

"The absence of a solution to violence in Syria allows for increased foreign intervention and the spread of extremism," Abdelbasset Sida, president of the main opposition Syrian National Council, told Al Arabiya on Friday.

Rebels claimed earlier this week to control 60 percent of Aleppo but the regime has dismissed the claims and said Thursday the army had recaptured three Christian neighborhoods, where residents are largely pro-Assad.

Amnesty International warned Thursday that civilians were facing “horrific” violence in Aleppo as the regime waged indiscriminate attacks.

The United Nations’ refugee agency, meanwhile, said that more than 200,000 Syrian refugees have fled the deadly in the country since the beginning of the crisis last year, surpassing a projected a figure of 185,000 earlier set out by the United Nations.

The total reflects an increase of some 30,000 in the last week alone to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, but also takes into account a change in the way the agency counts those in Jordan, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

“We are now at a much higher level of 202,512 refugees in the surrounding region,” Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Geneva on Friday. “The deteriorating security situation in Lebanon is hampering our work to help refugees fleeing Syria’s conflict, though operations are continuing.”

More than 3,500 people fleeing violence in Syria have entered Turkey over the last 24 hours, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said on Friday, one of the highest daily refugee flows since the start of the uprising last year.

The new arrivals bring the number of Syrian refugees now sheltering in Turkey to more than 78,000, AFAD said. There were some 44,000 refugees registered at the end of July.