March 20, 2018 / 5:26 PM / 6 months ago

Scores killed in rocket attack on Damascus market and rebel-held Douma

AMMAN (Reuters) - At least 35 people were killed on Tuesday when a rocket hit a busy market place in an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, state media said, while rescuers said Syrian and Russian airstrikes killed dozens in nearby rebel-held areas.

The rocket landed in the Kashkoul market close to rebel-held parts of eastern Ghouta, which has been under heavy bombardment by the Syrian army and its allies since last month.

The army says rebels in the besieged rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta have repeatedly targeted civilians in state- controlled districts of the capital. Rebels deny targeting civilians.

Separately, civil defence rescuers in the rebel-held town of Douma said more than 56 civilians had been killed during Syrian and Russian aerial strikes on residential areas in dozens of raids conducted over the last 24 hours.

Rescuers and residents say napalm and incendiary bombs were being dropped on civilian targets away from the frontlines in a campaign to drive civilians out of the enclave.

Douma, which is the largest urban centre in eastern Ghouta, had become a haven for tens of thousands of families who have fled from the frontlines and other towns that have recently fallen to the army.

“The situation in the city is catastrophic,” said Iyad Abdel Aziz, the head of Douma civil council, adding that the plight of more than 150,000 civilians mostly taking refuge in basements had worsened.

Food was getting scarce after an aerial strike on Sunday damaged warehouses where the last shipment of U.N. aid had been stored, he added.

The army assault on the last rebel bastion near the capital has been one of the heaviest of the war, which this week enters its eighth year.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Gareth Jones

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