Posted On Saturday, August 04, 2012 at 09:04:30 AM
Mortars rained down on a crowded marketplace in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital, killing 20 people as regime forces and rebels clashed on the southern outskirts of Damascus, activists said Friday.
|Boys play on a destroyed Syrian army tank close to the Azaz mosque in Aleppo
The attack on Yarmouk camp came as the government battled rebel fighters in the nearby Damascus suburb of Tadamon on Thursday evening.
Clashes there continued on Friday and sounds of explosions from the neighborhood could be heard as far as the mostly deserted Damascus downtown, with plumes of smoke seen rising into the sky. The U.N. agency running Palestinian camps confirmed that at least 20 people had died in the shelling of Yarmouk.
The Britain-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights, which first reported the deaths, said the mortars hit as shoppers were buying food for the evening meal. The activists with the group would not speculate on who was firing. Government troops have in the past attacked the camp, home to nearly 150,000 Palestinians and their descendants driven from their homes by the war surrounding Israel's 1948 creation.
Palestinian refugees in Syria have tried to stay out of the uprising, but with Yarmouk nestled among neighborhoods sympathetic to the rebels, its residents were eventually drawn into the fighting.
The camp's younger inhabitants have also been moved by the Arab Spring's calls for greater freedoms and have joined protests against President Bashar Assad's regime_ and have died during demonstrations when Syrian troops fired on them.
“We don't know where the mortars came from, whether they were from the Syrian regime or not the Syrian regime,'' said Rami Abdul Rahman, director of the Observatory. He added they could also have been strays from the fighting in nearby Tadamon.
UNGA draft resolution on syriadrops some key provisions
A Saudi Arabia-drafted resolution on Syria, which was to be voted upon in the UN General Assembly on Friday, has dropped its demand for President Bashar Al Assad to step down and sanctions be imposed against the country after some member States, including India, objected to the provisions.
The draft resolution had demanded regime change and that the Syrian army stop its shelling and helicopter attacks and withdraw to its barracks. While the resolution, if passed by the 193-member General Assembly would not have been legally binding, it would be moral and symbolic in nature.
Voting on the resolution was to be through simple majority and there was to be no veto.