World News

Syrian government bombing, rebel shells hit Damascus and suburbs

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Shelling by Syrian rebels killed six people in Damascus on Thursday, state media said, while a war monitor said government bombing killed 14 in the city’s rebel-held eastern suburbs.

Factions in eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel stronghold near the Syrian capital, fired shells at various districts that also injured 42 people, state news agency SANA said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitoring group, said more than 140 people were wounded in eastern Ghouta by government air strikes and artillery in the past two days.

The Syrian army stepped up bombardment this week on the besieged enclave after insurgents stormed an army base nearby, the Observatory, rebels, and residents have said.

Eastern Ghouta is one of several “de-escalation” zones across western Syria, where Russia has brokered deals to ease the fighting between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The United Nations said this month that 400,000 civilians face catastrophe in eastern Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farms near the capital. Aid deliveries are blocked and hundreds of people need urgent medical evacuation, U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said.

With the help of Russian jets and Iran-backed militias, the Damascus government has recaptured several rebel bastions around the capital in the past year through a series of offensives and evacuation deals.

Reporting by Ellen Francis; editing by John Stonestreet