World News

Syrian forces kill 10 in rebel town

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian forces killed 10 people, mainly activists and their relatives, and wounded 15 when army bombardment brought down a building in the town of Rastan in the rebel province of Homs, activists in the town said on Tuesday

“There was fighting and T-72 tanks began hitting the area on Monday night. At 9.30 pm (1930 GMT) either a rocket or a tank shell hit the Mansour family house ... and destroyed it,” Abu Jaafar, one of the activists, said by satellite phone.

“They were mostly activists and their cousins. Fifteen women and children who were in another side of the building were wounded,” he said, adding that the single storey building was among farmland on the edge of Rastan.

There was no independent confirmation of the attack. Syrian authorities, who say they are fighting “terrorists” in Homs province and across the country, have placed tight restrictions on independent media since the uprising against 42 years of Assad family rule erupted in March.

YouTube footage showed a bulldozer at night lifting a wall and blood and clothes among rubble underneath as people shouted “God is greatest”. A man dug out a long piece of what he described as a rocket and held it to the camera.

“This is from Bashar al-Assad, the ophthalmologist. God pluck your eyes,” he said, referring to medical training of the Syrian leader before his father chose him to succeed him following the death of Bashar’s elder brother.

Another YouTube video purportedly showed the bodies of 30 men killed in Rastan at a mosque, some of them with their heads blown off, with an activist saying the bodies of those killed in the house were among them. The footage could not be verified.

Rastan, a town of 25,000 people on the main Damascus-Aleppo highway, has seen renewed fighting in the last two days between Assad’s forces and rebels who have resumed guerrilla operations in the area since retreating after a 10-day battle in September.

Heavy fighting has also been reported in Khan Sheikhoun, another town on the highway. Activists said the rebels have blocked the road with trailer trucks since Monday.

Editing by Giles Elgood