Syrian army kills 62 as rebels shoot down helicopter

Syrian army shelling and helicopter attacks on suburbs of the capital Damascus killed at least 62 people yesterday, opposition activists said.

Eleven of the dead were killed in the district of Jobar, where activists said a Syrian helicopter was downed earlier in the day.

Rebels yesterday claimed they shot down an army helicopter during fierce fighting in Damascus, saying it was to avenge the “massacre” of more than 330 people in the town of Daraya blamed on regime forces.

State television said the aircraft crashed near a mosque in the eastern area of Qaboon, where activists reported shelling, heavy fire by combat helicopters, and clashes between government troops and Free Syrian Army rebels.

“It was in revenge for the Daraya massacre,” said Omar al-Qabooni, spokesman for the rebels’ Badr battalion in Damascus.

Five of the Jobar victims were captured in Dayer Jdayeh St and summarily executed by security forces, and the others died when their homes were hit, opposition activists said.

Rebels have intensified guerrilla attacks on President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the capital. The army has responded with artillery, mortar, and aerial bombardment, as well as arrest raids.

“It appears that eastern Damascus is being subjected to collective punishment,” Yasmine, one of the activists, said from the capital. “The shelling and helicopter fire are directly targeting civilians in their homes.”

Footage released by activists showed 20 bodies in a mosque in the nearby neighbourhood of Zamalka, including three children.

They said the rest of the casualties were reported killed in helicopter and mortar shell bombardment on the suburbs of Irbin, Harasta, Kfar Batna, and Muleiha, on the eastern outskirts of the capital.


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