Damascus refugee district 'bombarded'
Syrian forces bombarded a crowded Palestinian refugee district in Damascus today, killing at least 10 people according to residents, while other parts of the city were rocked by apparent rebel bomb attacks.
The main focus of the fighting is now in the economic centre, Aleppo, but rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad continue to attack government forces and buildings in the capital.
Five security personnel were killed and several others were wounded in a "terrorist" blast caused by explosives attached to a motorcycle in the Rukn al-Din district of Damascus, state television said.
A car bomb also exploded between the Information Ministry and the main Damascus courthouse, it said, giving no details of any casualties.
In the south of the capital, rockets rained down on Yarmouk, a densely populated Palestinian refugee camp. A woman living nearby counted at least 11 strikes.
"At least 10 people have been killed and 15 wounded since they resumed shelling," the woman said by telephone. "There are several burned corpses and limbs, so no one is sure of the total death toll."
Residents across the city said they had been hearing heavy blasts and sporadic gunfire since early on Friday morning. "I can count at least 10 columns of smoke coming from the southern neighbourhoods around the camp," said activist Samir al-Shami, speaking on Skype. He said tanks and troops had been brought in to conduct raids on some southern neighbourhoods.
Dr Assad's forces are trying to re-establish full control in Damascus as they battle anti-government forces in Aleppo, Syria's economic hub, and pockets of rebellion across the country.
The army began bombarding Yarmouk yesterday, possibly targeting rebels who residents say may have entered the camp.
Palestinians have been divided over whether or not to support Dr Assad, but there are signs that more and more are now starting to back the uprising.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that more than 23,000 people have died in an uprising that has lasted more than 17 months. Around 200,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
The 17-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's rule has grown increasingly bloody in recent months. Dr Assad's forces have cracked down with troops, tanks and helicopter gunships on the unrest, which began as a series of peaceful protests but has now descended into civil war.