Syrian government shelling kills a dozen civilians in Wadi Barada, Damascus

In this still image made from video provided by opposition operated Step News Agency, which is consistent with independent AP reporting, a man views scenes of destruction inside a banquet hall, in Deir Qanoun, Barada Valley, Syria, Sunday. Pro-Syrian government troops shelled the village in a rebel-controlled area near Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring several others who were taking shelter in a banquet hall. | STEP NEWS AGENCY, UGC VIA AP

Al-Jazeera – Troops allied to the Syrian government have shelled a village in a rebel-controlled area near its capital Damascus, killing at least seven civilians, according to a monitoring group.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said shells hit al-Reem banquet hall in the village of Deir Qanun on Sunday.

The incident occurred in the Wadi Barada valley, which is the main source of water for Damascus.

The banquet hall has been housing hundreds of civilians who have escaped the intensified fighting for Wadi Barada that started on December 22, according to local activists.

The SOHR said besides the fatalities, at least 20 other people were wounded in the attack, some of them critically.

“This is the highest toll there since the beginning of the truce [on December 30],” said Rami Abdel Rahman, SOHR’s head.

A difference source, the activist-operated Wadi Barada Media Centre, said 12 people were killed and more than 20 injured in Sunday’s shelling.

The group posted pictures of the bloodied floors of the hall on social media, some of them showing bodies with severed limbs.

Medical teams have been unable to move around the valley because of the fighting and it is not clear if the dozens of injured are getting any immediate care, according to Fuad Abu Hattab, an exiled local resident and a Wadi Barada Media Centre activist.

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