Beirut, Lebanon- A mortar shell smashed into a Damascus upmarket district that houses several embassies, killing one person and injuring several others, a watchdog and Syria’s official media said on Wednesday. The blast in Abu Rummaneh occurred on Tuesday, marking the first time the wealthy district has been targeted since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt in March 2011. “A mortar attack killed one person and injured several others in Abu Rummaneh,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“A large number of security forces were then deployed in the area,” said the watchdog, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers to compile and verify its data. Pro-government Al Watan daily also reported the attack, saying that “a mortar shell fell near the Madfaa garden in the district of Abu Rummaneh, causing casualties.”
It did not elaborate on the number of victims. Also on Tuesday, two mortar rockets hit the building housing the Ministry of Information in western Damascus, causing some material damage but no casualties, said state news agency SANA.
Meanwhile, the army shelled the southern belt of Damascus on Wednesday, as well as the town of Daraya southwest of the capital, the Observatory said. The Britain-based monitoring group added that helicopters and warplanes were deployed over the capital’s Eastern Ghouta area as the army launched new operations to retake control of Damascus province, home to some of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s fiercest and best organised groups.
On Tuesday, at least 117 people were killed in violence across Syria — 45 civilians, 39 rebel fighters, 29 soldiers, and four Kurdish fighters, the Observatory reported. At least 39,000 people have been killed across Syria since the outbreak of the revolt against President Bashar Al Assad, according to the watchdog.