[QODLink]
Middle East

Children 'killed' in Syria army tank attack

UK-based activists claim eight children among at least 20 total dead from tank shells in northern province of al-Raqqa.
Last Modified: 26 Dec 2012 18:36
Free Syria Army fighters have clashed with Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo REUTERS

At least 20 people, including eight children, have been killed after Syrian army tanks shelled a village in the northern province of al-Raqqa, an activist group has said.

Dozens of other civilians were also injured by the government's attacks in the village of Qahtania on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

"At least 20 people, among them eight children and three women, were killed in shelling by regime forces of farmlands in Kahtaniyeh village, west of the city of Raqqa," the UK-based group said.

Amateur video posted online by activists and distributed by the Observatory showed several bloodied bodies, including at least one of a child, laid out on blankets in a house.

"Dozens of people have been injured in farmlands of Kahtaniyeh, among them a whole family," according to activists in Raqqa.

Raqqa has seen an escalation of violence in recent months after rebels have launched an assault to oust regime forces from several areas of the province, strategically located on the Turkish border.

Rami Abdel Rahman, The Observatory's head, said the casualties were caused by tank fire and that the victims were from farming families.

"Just to be clear, there are no Al-Nusra Front jihadists or any other well-organised rebel groups there. The victims were just farmers," Abdel Rahman told the AFP news agency.

Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall said: "The government is systematically killing people under rebel control sending the message of certain death.

"We have seen an intensification of fighting in Syria today. It comes at a time when the UN and Arab league envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is in Damascus. He will continue his stay till the end of the month in a bid to try and bring the two sides to a peaceful solution on the negotiating table."

Vall added: "Instead of the fighting subsiding, we are seeing the two sides stepping up the violence. Perhaps to prove one has the upper hand than the other and that any solution should be according to their conditions."

347

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.