Warplanes bombarded a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus on Sunday for the first time in Syria’s uprising, as the army escalated its bid to suppress the rebellion in the capital.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air strike killed at least eight civilians at Yarmuk camp, which has been hit by intermittent violence during the past few months.
The raid took place as President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used fighter jets against rebel positions in the provinces of Hama and Aleppo, where rebels stepped up a bid to seize a military academy.
Analysts say the Assad regime is still standing firm despite predictions by Western officials, and even a top Russian diplomat, of its imminent fall, and the fact rebel fighters now hold vast swathes of territory.
“Warplanes staged an air strike on an area near Al-Bassel hospital… in Yarmuk camp,” said the Observatory.
Residents told AFP that a missile hit the Abdel Qader Husseini Mosque in the heart of the camp.
The mosque was acting as a makeshift shelter for some 600 people forced to flee their homes in nearby districts engulfed in violence.
Amateur video posted online by activists in the camp showed broken glass strewn on the ground by the mosque, and several bloodied bodies laid out at the entrance.
The air strike on Yarmuk was Sunday’s sixth on flashpoint districts in southern Damascus, said the Observatory.
Fighter jets also bombarded the nearby districts of Al-Hajar al-Aswad and Assali, scene of intense fighting between troops and rebels.
“The army feels it has to step up its campaign to suppress the insurgency in southern Damascus, and that it cannot fight off rebels without resorting to air power,” said the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman.
“As for the Palestinians, they are divided over the conflict, and are fighting on both sides,” he added.
The escalating violence came a day after Iran’s armed forces chief of staff warned Turkey over America’s plans to deploy US-made Patriot missiles near Syria, saying the move was part of a Western plot to “create a world war”.
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