BEIRUT: Rebel belts around Damascus were rocked by fighting and heavy shelling for a second straight day today as the army pressed a major offensive that a watchdog said killed 55 people in 24 hours.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said among those killed were five civilians, three of them women, who died when mortars slammed into the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the capital.
The watchdog had yesterday reported the launch by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of a fierce offensive on rebel belts on the outskirts of Damascus, while residents reported the heaviest bombardments in months.
The Observatory reported early today that at least 19 civilians, 28 rebels and eight soldiers have been killed since the launch of the offensive, which is focused in the southern and eastern outskirts of the capital.
It said that rebels yesterday attacked a security checkpoint between the northeast Qaboon district and Abassid Square near the centre of the capital, sparking fierce fighting.