Damascus airport under fire, UN condemns Syria carnage

Eurasia News

Damascus international airport came under rebel mortar attack Thursday, officials said, as the United Nations warned that children and families are increasingly becoming victims of the “vicious” conflict in Syria.

Faced with recent government victories, Free Syrian Army rebel military chief Selim Idriss is to meet on Friday in Turkey with representatives of countries allied with the opposition.

Rebels fired two mortar rounds, delaying two landings and one take-off, state television quoted Transport Minister Mahmoud Said as saying.

“One mortar round hit at the airport’s edges, near the runway, causing two flights coming from Latakia (in northwest Syria) and Kuwait to delay their landing. The take-off of a flight to Baghdad was also delayed,” he said.

No passengers were hurt, but the second round hit an airport warehouse and wounded a worker, Said added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the attack on the regime’s main gateway to the world had been carried out by home-made rockets.

The skyrocketing number of deaths over the past year, along with documented cases of children tortured and entire families massacred, “is a terrible reminder of just how vicious this conflict has become,” UN rights chief Navi Pillay said.

On the international front, the UN is in exploratory talks with Sweden about its participation in a beefed-up peacekeeping force between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, officials from the two countries said.

The UN has asked Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt whether Stockholm would consider sending troops to the UN Disengagement Observer Force after Austrian troops have begun withdrawing because of attacks and abductions of peacekeepers.

At a meeting in Cairo, influential Sunni clerics from several Arab states including Saudi Arabia and Egypt called for a holy war against the “sectarian” regime in Syria.

“We must undertake jihad to help our brothers in Syria by sending them money and arms, and providing all aid to save the Syrian people from this sectarian regime,” they said in a statement.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite movement has been fighting alongside the forces of President Bashar Al-Assad, a member of the Alawite offshoot of Shia Islam, against Syria’s mainly Sunni rebels.