DAMASCUS, Syria – A mortar attack on a historic souk in central Damascus on Monday, March 30, killed one person and wounded dozens, Syria’s official news agency said.
“Terrorists launched two mortar rounds on Tarek Ben Ziyad Street, in the Al-Hariqa market of Damascus, which killed one person, wounded 30 others,” SANA reported, citing a high-ranking police source.
Situated within the walls of the Old City, the souk is one of the oldest and most famous marketplaces in the capital, popular among tourists and locals alike.
Syria’s civil war began to encroach on the capital in the summer of 2012, the year after it broke out.
Since then, Damascenes have been living under almost daily mortar shelling that has seen dozens of people killed, many more wounded and left a trail of destruction.
Rebel groups typically fire on Damascus from their bases on the outskirts of the city.
In a report published last week, Human Rights Watch criticized armed opposition groups in Syria for conducting indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas, which are considered war crimes.
The New York-based group documented dozens of opposition attacks on regime-controlled areas, including shelling of Damascus neighborhoods that cost civilian lives.
Refugee camp medic slain
In another reported attack at a civilian site Monday, a medic from Hamas was killed in the Yarmuk refugee camp south of Damascus, the Palestinian Islamist movement said.
The movement said in a statement that it “mourns the death of the jihadist brother, the martyr, Yehya Hurani, a leader in the Hamas movement”.
Hurani was killed in “a cowardly assassination… while on his way to perform his humanitarian duty at the Palestine Clinic in the Yarmuk camp.”
A Palestinian source at the camp, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had died of gunshot wounds and accused the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, of assassinating him.
Others blamed the rebel Free Syrian Army.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group also reported the killing. It said Hurani worked in the medical field and did not take up arms in the country’s conflict.
Hurani’s death was not the first time Yarmuk’s medical staff have been subject to violence, including assassinations and kidnappings.
According to Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, internal power struggles in Yarmuk have led to violence, including clashes weeks ago between Nusra and Aknaf Beit Maqdis, a group loyal to Hamas.
Abdel Rahman said jihadists of the Islamic State group had kidnapped the head of a relief organization in the camp and demanded food parcels in exchange for his release.
About 18,000 people live in Yarmuk, which has been besieged by regime forces for more than a year. Its residents suffer from malnutrition and lack proper medical care, leading to roughly 200 deaths.
Hamas’s relationship with the Damascus regime has been strained since the group supported anti-regime protests at the beginning of Syria’s conflict in 2011.
The Palestinian group moved its headquarters out of Damascus and to the Qatari capital in 2012.
Meanwhile, the Observatory said a car bomb killed eight people and wounded dozens at Al-Jize, a village near the southern city of Daraa, cradle of the uprising against that triggered the conflict. – Rappler.com
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