Syrian Jets Fire On Hospital, As Fighting Rages

Aug 15, 2012
Originally published on August 15, 2012 5:23 pm
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Melissa Block.

The center of the Syrian capital, Damascus, was shaken today by a bomb attack and clashes between rebels and government troops. At the same time, the U.N. issued a report accusing both sides of war crimes.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn has more from Beirut.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: A Free Syrian Army unit called the Descendants Of The Prophet Brigade claimed responsibility on its Facebook page for the bombing. It claimed the intended target of the attack was a military headquarters. It was also near a hotel often used by U.N. staff. Three people were injured in the explosion, none of them U.N. personnel. Government troops also clashed with rebels near the prime minister's office.

Abu Mohanad is the nom de guerre of a Damascus-based Free Syrian Army fighter. Speaking by Skype, he explains that the government was trying to clear the area of rebels who are laying low as the battle for Aleppo, the main city in the north, plays out.

ABU MOHANAD: (Through Translator) The government says it's in control of Damascus, but that's just because we're not doing anything. We are waiting for a showdown like the one in Aleppo. Damascus will be like Aleppo. But for now, the FSA in Damascus is on standby.

KUHN: Today, the U.N. issued an extensive report concluding that the Syrian regime has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including extrajudicial killings, torture and sexual violence.

Karen AbuZayd, a commissioner on the U.N. Human Rights Commission of inquiry on Syria, says that the rebels are guilty of war crimes too, but...

KAREN ABUZAYD: The scope of them is different, much larger, much deeper, I would say on the government side, and fewer were crimes committed by the rebels.

KUHN: The report also concludes, she adds, that the violations are the result of Syrian state policy.

ABUZAYD: Things that are happening all across the country are happening in very much the same ways. There are patterns in the ways both sides, the government and the anti-government side, are conducting their warfare so that it must come from a higher level. There must be someone controlling all of this and giving out the orders.

KUHN: The report calls on the U.N. Security Council to take appropriate action, something which the U.N. secretary-general recently lamented it has failed to do.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beirut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.