Rocket attack on Syrian capital kills 35 people
Rockets fired on a market in a government-controlled neighbourhood of Damascus yesterday killed 35 people and wounded more than 20 others, Syrian state-run media said, marking one of the highest death tolls in a single attack targeting the capital.
The government blamed rebels in the eastern suburbs of Damascus for the attack on the Kashkol neighbourhood. The capital, seat of President Bashar Assad's power, has come under increasing attack as government forces continue to pound rebel-held eastern Ghouta, with military backing from Russia.
With government forces tied up in the monthlong offensive on eastern Ghouta, Islamic
State militants seized a neighbourhood on its southern edge, forcing the government to rush in reinforcements.
IS militants captured the neighbourhood of Qadam late Monday, a week after rebels had surrendered it to the government. At least 36 soldiers and pro-government militiamen were killed in the clashes, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said dozens more were captured or wounded.
Last year, the Islamic State group lost the swath of territory it had controlled in eastern Syria since 2014 - and where it had proclaimed its self-styled "caliphate" - but it retains pockets of control in areas
across Syria, including two neighbourhoods on the southern edge of Damascus.
On Monday, the militants pounced on Qadam from the neighbouring Hajr al-Aswad and Yarmouk neighbourhoods, which they control. More than 1,000 rebels and their families had earlier fled Qadam for rebel-held territory in the north of the country, instead of submitting to the Damascus authorities.