Fighting rages in Syria
Russia lashes out at oppositionAgence France-Presse . Damascus
Fighting raged in several Syrian flashpoints on Wednesday as key Damascus ally Moscow lashed out the Syrian opposition for its ‘obsession’ with toppling president Bashar al-Assad.
In a related development, Russian president Vladimir Putin offered to host an international conference aimed at aiding the more than 650,000 refugees the UN says have fled the 22-month conflict in Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said five members of one family — a couple and three children — were killed in a dawn missile attack on the village of Abu Taltal in Aleppo province.
In a video released by activists, the bodies of the three children, a boy and two small girls, can be seen lying on blankets on a hospital bed.
Their brightly coloured clothes are stained with blood and their faces are turned away from the camera. The Observatory has previously reported more than 3,500 child deaths in Syria’s conflict.
In Ras al-Ain in the Kurdish northeast, battles raged between Kurdish militia and Islamist rebels, the Observatory said, adding that more than 58 people have been killed in a week of fierce fighting there.
The main opposition Syrian National Coalition, which has been recognised by dozens of states and organisations as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, said it has contacted rebel leaders in the area, urging them to stop the fighting.
Wednesday’s violence came a day after at least 123 people were killed, among them 62 civilians including 15 children, said the Observatory. The UN says more than 60,000 people have died since the conflict first erupted in March 2011.
In Moscow, the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, criticised Syria’s opposition for its ‘obsession’ with toppling Assad, and warned of a long conflict.
‘For now, everything is running up against the opposition’s obsession with toppling Bashar Assad’s regime,’ Lavrov told reporters.
‘As long as this irreconcilable position remains in place, nothing good can happen. Armed actions will continue and people will die.’
He said that the opposition’s insistence on ousting Assad was stymying efforts to find a diplomatic solution backed by the former international peace envoy Kofi Annan and his successor Lakhdar Brahimi.
Syrians hide in caves to escape the war
The caves dotting the sheer cliffs in picturesque northwest Syria have been there for so long that locals do not know what they were originally used for.
Now they serve as makeshift homes, refuges from the incessant regime bombardment that is steadily reducing their nearby village of Al-Hamama — a poor hamlet located in a rebel-held zone — to rubble.
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