Airstrike kills at least seven near Syrian capital

Syrian government troops battled rebels in several areas outside Damascus while regime warplanes bombed opposition-held areas around the capital.

Updated: Jan 21, 2013, 00:00 AM IST

Beirut: Syrian government troops battled rebels in several areas outside Damascus on Sunday while regime warplanes bombed opposition-held areas around the capital, including an airstrike on one village that killed at least seven people, activists said.

Rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad have seized swaths of territory in northern Syria but have become bogged down in their push for Damascus, where government troops are still firmly in control.

While the opposition fighters have established footholds in suburbs east and south of the capital, Assad`s forces have kept them from advancing into the heart of the city and regularly hit them with artillery and airstrikes.

Much of the fighting today was focused in areas east and south of the city, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, while government jets were bombing rebel areas.

An airstrike on the village of al-Barika, southeast of the capital, killed at least seven people, including five members of the same family, the Observatory said.

Other activists provided the names of the dead, including the mother and father of the Shehadeh family and three of their children.

A video posted online said to be from the site showed dead bodies in the back of a pickup a truck and body parts and blood scattered in the street. "A whole family," an off-camera voice says, adding that they had fled to the village to escape violence elsewhere.

Another video posted online showed what activists said was the aftermath of an airstrike on the central village of Kafr Aya.

The video showed more than 10 wounded people being treated in a rudimentary field hospital. Some the wounded were children and appeared to be unconscious. A small baby was wrapped in a bloody white blanket with a badly wounded forehead.

The videos appeared genuine and corresponded to other activist reports.

The Syrian government does not respond to requests for comment on military actions.

The state news agency said today that troops had killed "scores of terrorists" in two rebellious southern suburbs of Damascus. The government considers the rebels and its other internal opponents "terrorists" backed by foreign powers that seek to destroy Syria.

Also today, the Observatory distributed two videos showing a rebel beating a captured government soldier with a rope.

The captive had been stripped to his underwear and was forced to raise his arms so he could be beaten on his sides, lifting his feet to receive blows on their soles.