DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 25 (UPI) — Ten days of airstrikes by the Syrian government killed and wounded up to 1,300 civilians in areas east of Damascus, according to a rights group.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the deaths of 247 civilians — including 50 children and 25 women — in airstrikes on multiple towns in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, and other locations within the Rif Dimashq province since Aug. 16.
At least 1,000 people were injured, dozens critically.
Rights groups have condemned the Syrian air force’s use of barrel bombs — essentially improvised explosive devices dropped from helicopters — due to their inaccuracy and toll on civilians.
A May report by Amnesty International accused forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of committing war crimes through their barrel bombing operations in Aleppo. Citing data from the Violations Documentation Center, a Syria-based monitoring group, the report indicated barrel bombing in the northwestern city killed 3,124 civilians and 35 rebel fighters between January 2014 and March 2015.
SOHR on Sunday reported U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against Islamic State and al-Qaida militants in Syria had killed more than 200 civilians since September 2014.
Regime forces have battled rebels around Damascus for years now, on Aug. 16 finding a 55-foot deep, 1,968-foot long tunnel in the eastern suburb of Jobar. The day prior, rebel shelling from Jobar was reported to have killed 12 people and wounded 37 others in Damascus. Rebel forces are believed to be using a tunnel complex allowing free movement around the Eastern Ghouta countryside.
The same day as the tunnel discovery, Syrian regime airstrikes killed more than 80 people in the nearby town of Douma in a bid to stop rebel rocket attacks into the capital.
During a trip to Syria last week, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien told reporters he was “absolutely horrified by the total disregard for civilian life by all parties in this conflict.”
“Attacks on civilians are unlawful, unacceptable and must stop,” O’Brien said. “I appeal to every party engaged in violence and fighting to protect civilians and to respect international humanitarian law.”
At least 250,000 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war since it began in 2011, according to U.N. estimates.