DAMASCUS - Bomb attacks struck Damascus, killing five soldiers on a Friday of anti-regime protests and clashes between security forces and rebels as EU heads met to boost aid to civilians caught in Syria’s conflict.
Neither reported casualties in that incident.
Witnesses told AFP the capital’s southern suburb of Tadamun and neighbouring Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk came under heavy shellfire. On the southeast outskirts of Damascus, hundreds of troops backed by armour stormed the town of Babila, where Free Syrian Army rebels were entrenched, it added.
A raid by security forces on Al-Qazzaz district of southeast Damascus, in which troops rounded up dozens of suspected militants, sparked clashes with rebels, the Observatory said.
In Syria’s commercial capital Aleppo in the north, one rebel was killed in clashes with the army in the embattled Salaheddin district, and fighting was also reported in nearby Izaa, the Observatory said.
It also reported heavy shelling of rebel-held areas in the Salaheddin and Tarik al-Bab districts. Elsewhere, two children were killed when Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border was shelled, and two rebels were killed by mortar fire in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, the Observatory said. In the northwestern province of Idlib province, scores of homes were destroyed by shelling, while in the central province of Homs, a child was killed in an air strike on rebel-held Rastan and three civilians died in Talbisseh town, it said.
At least 61 people, mostly civilians, were killed nationwide, according to an initial toll by the Observatory.
European Union foreign ministers meeting in nearby Cyprus on Friday called for a massive boost in aid to Syrian civilians amid mounting fears the humanitarian crisis could impact Europe. As Brussels announced an extra $63m for civilians trapped in the conflict, the EU ministers opened a two-day meeting in the Cypriot resort of Paphos, barely 100km from Syria.
“Humanitarian needs are rising rapidly,” warned British Foreign Secretary William Hague. “We need additional contributions to the human effort urgently. I want to put the proposal to my colleagues that other EU nations need to do more.”
His counterparts from France and Italy, Laurent Fabius and Giulio Terzi, said in a separate message that the crisis was at “a turning-point” and that “Syria matters above all to Europe”.
Britain reiterated that no EU country would provide weapons given the bloc’s agreement to slap an embargo on delivery of arms both to Assad’s regime and its opponents.
Whereas, the UN almost doubled its humanitarian appeal for Syria to $347m as the worsening conflict sends growing numbers fleeing the country.
On Friday, the new head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said he has received positive commitments from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, but stressed the promises needed to be tested in coming weeks.