Syria: At Least 83 Killed as Forces Storm Damascus Suburb
At least 83 people were killed, mostly civilians, in violence across Syria on Saturday. AFP reported that hundreds more were trapped in Douma as regime forces stormed the town in Damascus province.
In the single most serious incident, mortar fire killed 30 civilians who were attending a funeral in the town of Zamalka, six miles east of the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights told AFP.
Two videos from people on the ground showed several dozen people, mostly men waving Syrian revolutionary flags and shouting slogans as they accompanied the funeral cortege, when the picture was interrupted by an explosion.
A second video which could not be confirmed as being shot at the same scene showed people running away from a cloud of dust that gradually dissipated to show numerous bodies lying on the ground.
The Observatory urged the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to “urgently send medical teams” to Douma.
“The security forces have seized control of the main hospital in Douma,” a statement from the Observatory quoted by AFP said. “There are no doctors in the town, though dozens of wounded need urgent care.”
The Britain-based monitoring group warned of a "catastrophic humanitarian situation" in the city, which "has been subjected to a fierce military campaign since June 21."
“More than 100 families remain in the town, unable to flee and forced to take refuge in shelters,” said the group, adding that most of those trapped were women and children, after the majority of the men had fled repeated arrest sweeps.
The Observatory said those killed on Saturday included a civilian shot dead by a sniper in Douma; a rebel in Daraa, southern Syria; a family of three killed by shelling in the northwestern province of Idlib and 14 soldiers.
The continued shelling of Douma is part of a fierce government offensive aimed at regaining control of parts of Damascus suburbs where rebels operate.
At least 43 people were killed in the area on Thursday and Friday alone, activists said on Friday.
Meanwhile on Saturday, major world powers approved a plan for a government transition which may allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain as leader of Syria.
The U.S., Russia, and officials of other governments met in Geneva to discuss the plan authored by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Under Annan's plan, members of Assad's current administration, as well as of his family, could remain in power under a new administration. It would be up to the Syrian people if they wanted Assad himself to remain in power.
However, Annan said after the meeting, “I will doubt that the Syrians who have fought to hard for their independence will select people with blood on their hands to lead them.”