News / Middle East

Mortar Rounds Hit Near Syrian Palace as Aleppo Death Toll Mounts

This citizen journalism image from the Aleppo Media Center (AMC) shows people searching debris of destroyed buildings after Syrian government forces airstrike, Jabal Bedro, Aleppo, Feb. 19, 2013.
This citizen journalism image from the Aleppo Media Center (AMC) shows people searching debris of destroyed buildings after Syrian government forces airstrike, Jabal Bedro, Aleppo, Feb. 19, 2013.
VOA News
Syrian rebels fired mortar rounds at one of President Bahsar al-Assad's palaces in Damascus Tuesday, as the death toll climbed to at least 31 from a separate missile strike late Monday in the northern commercial city of Aleppo.

The palace attack is the first strike confirmed by the government close to a presidential building, and is widely seen as further evidence that Syria's civil war is reaching areas of the capital once considered safe.  The state-run SANA news agency reported no casualties at the Tishreen palace and the rebel Free Syrian Army later claimed credit for the attack.

In Aleppo, meanwhile, 14 children and five women were reported among the dead, with amateur video showing dozens of residents working Tuesday to locate and identify victims in the city's Jabal Badro district.  

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quotes witnesses as saying no planes were overhead when the missile struck, and said the degree of destruction suggested a strike by a surface-to-surface missile.

Meanwhile, Russian and Western news reports say Moscow has dispatched two transport planes and four large naval landing ships to Syrian coastal waters to evacuate its nationals wanting to leave the war-torn country.

Russia's defense ministry said the ships were assigned to military service, while providing no further details.  However, a Russian military source told the official Ria Novosti news agency it can be assumed they will be taking part in a possible evacuation.

Separately, the United Nations' World Health Organization renewed warnings Tuesday about a typhoid outbreak affecting some 2,500 people in rebel-held areas of the country's northeast.

Typhoid is a bacterial disease that spreads as a result of contact with contaminated food or drink.  

The WHO said ongoing fighting has cut off access to electricity and clean water, forcing many people to drink water from the sewage-contaminated Euphrates River.

The United Nations estimates 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since anti-government protests erupted in March 2011 and broadened into civil war.

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by: Anonymous
February 20, 2013 6:03 PM
The ICC is a sick joke, propped up by the west (as a propaganda tool for the most part). Funny that all the really big war crimes go unpunished, namely in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (among others) where the perpetrators of war crimes are "untouchable", or have been conveniently absolved of their crimes.

by: Anonymous
February 20, 2013 1:48 AM
This photo clearly shows the crimes against humanity Bashar al Assad is dealing from his deck. Every crime he does will not escape Justice being served. You can't escape justice for murder of thousands, this is 2013. Maybe in the wild west back in the day, but every crime has its punishment.

by: musawi melake
February 19, 2013 6:27 PM
This issue is totally an internal matter, the only thing the UN and other international bodies should be dealing with is to counter the proliferation of illegal weapons that are being used by the terrorists against a sovereign state. If there are grievances among the people of Syria, it should be dealt with appropriately through negotiations and reconciliation. Syria should be the one that is entitled to investigate and do justice, not some Pundits at the Whitehouse.
In Response

by: Anonymous
February 20, 2013 1:37 AM
The International Criminal Court putting out for a warrant for Bashar al Assads arrest would be a wonderful start, this would slow things down a bit. A lot less innocent civilians would be killed. Justice will be served to Bashar al Assad, even if he thinks he can hide in Russia.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 19, 2013 11:45 AM
The terrible massacres of Sunni Muslim civilians, through the use of large weapons, by the Syrian regime continues unabatted. Those countries/orgs like Hezbollah that are supporting the regime are accessories to these massive crimes. It is unfortunate that no country has stepped into destroying the large weapons the Syrian regime has; until such effort is undertaken, these large massacres will just continue. Given that the regime is refusing to stand down, but just continues killing innocent civilians with massive weapons, a military option to destroy such weapons needs full consideration, or eventually Sunni Muslims in Syria will no longer exist. Not a very good outcome for anyone..

by: Michael from: USA
February 19, 2013 10:03 AM
Since this attack there is no safe place in Syria. If ever there were a safe place it would not be found on any military map. The missle was aimed at a location on a map. a's causing b, points to the military which involves arms manufacture and if there were additional plans they probably occurred during the idea to use a missle, although the target was probably a difficult choice

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