A rebel mortar attack on a school in a camp for displaced people near Damascus today killed nine students and their teacher, Syrian state television reported, branding it a “horrific crime.” The broadcaster also reported 20 people were injured in the attack, but it was not immediately possible to verify their identities.
The mortar smashed into Bteiha school in Wafideen camp about 20 kilometres (15 miles) northeast of Damascus, the report said. Wafideen is home to some 25,000 people displaced from the Golan Heights by the Israeli occupation since 1967.
“In a horrific crime, nine students were killed along with one of their teachers,” the television said.
The broadcaster initially reported a death toll of nine, but later updated it to 10.
“They were killed by a mortar launched by terrorists,” said the broadcaster, using the Syrian regime’s term for rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the country’s raging civil war.
“Some 20 people were injured,” it added.
Battles east of Damascus have grown especially bloody in past days as troops try to push back rebels in the Eastern Ghouta region as they inch closer towards the capital.
On Tuesday alone, a total of 16 people were killed in violence in the province of Damascus, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which also reported the killings in the Wafideen camp.
The Britain-based watchdog said raging battles were being fought on Tuesday at a checkpoint near the strategic road linking Damascus to the international airport.
The army, meanwhile, shelled several towns and villages on the outskirts of Damascus, both southwest and east of the capital, it said.
Syrian pro-regime journalist assassinated in Damascus: TV
A Syrian journalist working for a government newspaper was killed in a south Damascus neighbourhood today, state television announced.
“An armed terrorist group assassinated the journalist Naji Assaad in the Tadamun district of Damascus as he was on his way to the Tishreen newspaper,” the broadcaster said.
A retired journalist in his sixties, Assaad contributed articles to Tishreen, the last of which was published on Monday, an official at the paper told AFP.
The killing marked the second of a journalist in Tadamun in less than a fortnight. The neighbourhood has been plagued by intermittent battles between rebels and government forces since mid-summer.
On November 22, rebels shot dead state television reporter Bassel Tawfiq Youssef in the violence-stricken neighbourhood, and branded him a “shabiha”, or pro-regime militiaman.
Fifteen professional journalists and 41 so-called citizen journalists have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt in March last year, according to international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
Two foreign journalists meanwhile are missing in Syria.
Palestinian-Jordanian Bashar Fahmi al-Kadumi, who works for US-funded Al-Hurra television broadcaster, has been missing since August 20, while US freelancer Austin Tice disappeared on August 13 from the outskirts of Damascus.
According to the anti-regime Syrian Journalists Association, November was the bloodiest month for the media in Syria, with 13 amateur and professional journalists killed across the strife-torn country.
“This is a clear and serious indication that journalists and media workers are being targeted, by Syrian regime forces as well as three killed at the hands of the armed opposition,” the SJA said.