Toll in rockets on Syria capital rises to 44 dead: state media

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DAMASCUS: The death toll in a barrage of rebel rocket fire on a popular shopping district of Syria’s capital Damascus has risen to 44 civilians, state media said on Wednesday.

The attack on edges of the Jaramana district in eastern Damascus took place on Tuesday night, and state media had reported 35 dead at the time.

“Nine more civilians lost their lives after sustaining critical wounds,” state news agency SANA reported Wednesday, citing a police source.

“A number of wounded are still in the intensive care units of the hospitals in Damascus,” SANA said.

The toll is the highest in rebel shelling on Damascus since Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011.

Medical facilities in the capital were overwhelmed on Tuesday, with pools of blood on the floor and families searching desperately for loved ones.

An AFP correspondent at the main Damascus hospital said there were so many dead, they could not fit in the mortuary.

Outside, women wailed and hugged each other as they waited to hear whether their loved ones had survived.

The rain of rockets hit a popular market known for its inexpensive prices. It was packed with people shopping on the eve of Mother’s Day in Syria, celebrated on March 21.

The district lies south of Ain Terma, a rebel-controlled town that falls in the opposition’s bastion of Eastern Ghouta.
Ghouta-based rebels have for years lobbed rockets and mortar shells at Damascus.

Syrian troops have been waging a fierce month-long air and ground assault to oust rebels from the enclave that has left more than 1,400 dead.—AFP