Children die in Syria

2013-01-27 08:20
A fighter from the Syrian opposition holds a Qur'an, Islam's holy book, and a rocket-propelled grenade. (File, AFP)

A fighter from the Syrian opposition holds a Qur'an, Islam's holy book, and a rocket-propelled grenade. (File, AFP)

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Damascus - Regime warplanes launched a wave of deadly raids across Syria on Saturday, including one that killed eight children, a watchdog said, as Nato declared Patriot missiles are now active on the Turkish border.

The strikes targeted areas of Aleppo province, which borders Turkey, as well as nearby Raqa province, Daraa in the south, Damascus's Jobar district and Eastern Ghuta on the capital's outskirts, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In the deadliest raid on the city of Manbij, in the northern province of Aleppo, one air strike killed 16 people, half of them children, the Observatory reported from its sources on the ground.

Video footage posted on the internet by activists opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's regime showed harrowing scenes, as dozens of people rushed to rescue those trapped in rubble.

Grief-stricken men and women wailed and screamed as they scrambled away from the site of the attack carrying children, some of whom were covered in blood.

Neighbourhood covered in debris

"Bashar is a dog! Bashar is a dog!" a young man in glasses shouted at the camera, which panned to show incinerated cars, massive trucks overturned and an entire neighbourhood covered in debris and dust.

Crowds of teenagers stared in shock at destroyed apartment buildings in the footage, whose authenticity could not be immediately verified.

Another seven people died in strikes on Aazaz, only seven kilometres south of Turkey, said the Observatory.

The watchdog, which relies on a network of activists, medics and lawyers on the ground for its information, said 83 people were killed nationwide so far on Saturday - 47 of them civilians.

The UN says the 22-month conflict has killed more than 60 000 people, while also estimating that the number of refugees in neighbouring countries will double to 1.1 million by June if the bloodshed continues.

In northern neighbour Turkey, Nato said one of six batteries of Patriot missiles deployed to protect against a spillover of the conflict went into operation on Saturday.

Missile threats

The battery, provided by The Netherlands, would "help to protect the (southern) city and people of Adana against missile threats," it said, adding the other five batteries should be ready in the coming days.

Ankara and Nato have stressed the deployment is for defensive purposes only, while Damascus and its ally Moscow have criticised the measure. The US-made missiles can take out cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as aircraft.

A Syrian deputy prime minister said meanwhile that Russia, one of Assad's last supporters, is still supplying weapons to Damascus under contracts signed long ago.

"Syria has always received and today is still receiving (weapons from Russia). We have agreements signed before the conflict and Russia is fulfilling its obligations," Qadri Jamil told a Moscow radio station without specifying the kinds of weapons.

Read more on:    nato  |  syria  |  syrian protests  |  war

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