Deaths mount as Syria bids to keep rebels out of Damascus
Published 15/01/2013 | 05:00
The Syrian government bombed areas around Damascus as part of its push to keep rebel fighters out of the capital.
Many children were among the dozens killed, according to reports.
An international aid organisation cited such raids, along with rape and widespread destruction, as key factors in the exodus of more than a half-million Syrians to neighbouring countries since the conflict began in March 2011.
The International Rescue Committee said it could be "months, if not years" before the refugees could return home and warned that Syria's civil war could enflame tensions in the Middle East.
Although rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad have made gains in the country's north and east and outside of Damascus, they have yet to seriously challenge his hold on the capital or other parts of the country.