Damascus suburb hit by deadly airstrikes

At least 10 people have died in airstrikes in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, it has been claimed.

Forces loyal to the Syrian government are currently battling rebels in Ain Tarma, one of their last strongholds in the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes in the suburb were the largest massacre by warplanes in the region since April, when 18 people were killed in the southern city of Saqba.

Videos uploaded to social media after the strikes showed smoke rising over the area’s skyline along with destroyed buildings and people being treated in hospital.

Smoke rises above the city after the aistrike
Image:
Smoke rises above the city after the strikes on Friday

One video, released by the volunteer search and rescue group the White Helmets, showed a young child being rescued from the rubble.

The airstrikes occurred as the seventh round of peace talks aimed at halting the conflict ended with “no breakthrough, no breakdown” in Geneva on Friday.

Staffan de Mistura, the special UN envoy for Syria, said there had been “incremental progress” and that nobody had walked out during the talks.

Syria’s main opposition group has been pushing for the talks to focus on a “political transition”, as sought by a UN Security Council resolution in December 2015.


Three women explain why they  travelled to Islamic State-controlled territory.

Video:
Why women travel to Islamic State

But the Syrian regime, led by Bashar Assad, has refused to consider this and is framing the civil war as a fight against terrorism.

Mr de Mistura said no side should have “ownership” of tackling terrorism as an issue.

He said: “I felt that there was an expectation for the UN to indicate where we are in the fight against terrorism, which is becoming the main issue being discussed at the highest possible level elsewhere.”

His comments appeared to refer to the focus being placed by the Trump administration and others on combating terrorism.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by groups from the US, UK, France and elsewhere in the west and Arab world, are currently trying to push Islamic State out of the city of Raqqa.

Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) run across a street in Raqqa
Image:
Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) run across a street in Raqqa

The UN envoy said he had asked the Syrian government “to be ready to address the political process” in the next round of talks, but saw no signs that that they would ever relent.

The next round of peace talks are due to take place in September.

“We will see whether by that time the international momentum… may be able to actually push all sides to finally sit in the same room and start talking about substance,” said Mr de Mistura.

The two sides have so far refused to speak face-to-face, instead they have both been meeting separately with the UN envoy.

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