Syrian government 'kills 12 civilians in attack on shelter'
At least a dozen civilians were killed and dozens more injured yesterday as Syrian government forces attacked Deir Qanun, a village in the water-rich Wadi Barada area.
The activist-operated Wadi Barada Media Centre said 12 were killed and more than 20 injured after a banquet hall where they were sheltering was bombed. The group posted pictures of the bloodied floors of the hall, some showing bodies with severed limbs.
The village was attacked after unknown gunmen shot and killed a negotiator sent from nearby Damascus to repair water infrastructure in exchange for a cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of rebel fighters.
Each side blamed the other for the death of Ahmed al-Ghadban, a retired army officer who had only resumed his duties that day.
Fighting has raged since last month in the valley that provides the Syrian capital with most of its waterThe violence has tested the fragile ceasefire and restricted water supplies to the city.
The state media outlet SANA said "terrorists" opened fire on Mr Ghadban after he left a meeting with armed groups in the village of Ain al-Fijeh, about 14km north-west of Damascus. Activists opposed to President Bashar al-Assad denounced the killing, which they claimed had been ordered by the regime to "kill any hope of a peaceful solution".
Rami Abdel Rahman of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that after the shooting "regime forces and their allies tried to advance to Ain al-Fijeh", bombarding rebel positions with heavy artillery. Ain al-Fijeh, the rebel-controlled spring that supplies Damascus with 70pc of its drinking water, is a vital strategic asset in the country's civil war.
In the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, Mr Assad's forces lost territory yesterday to Isil. Despite air strikes by regime fighter jets, the jihadists pressed at the city's edges for a second day, seizing several hilltops near a government air base. At least 12 government fighters and 20 Isil militants were killed in the offensive, which included suicide attackers. (© Daily Telegraph, London)