Syria regime airstrikes kill at least 31 civilians near Damascus
BEIRUT - At least 31 civilians were killed in Syrian government air strikes on Eastern Ghouta near Damascus on Wednesday, as a barrage of deadly rebel rocket fire hit the capital, a monitor said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 120 people were injured in the raids, several of them seriously, and that the death toll was likely to rise.
The air raids hit the towns of Douma, Saqba, Kafr Batna and Hammouriyeh in Eastern Ghouta, a rebel stronghold region outside the capital.
The strikes came as rebels fired dozens of rockets into Damascus, killing at least four people, according to Syria's interior ministry.
The ministry, quoted by state television, said "four people were killed and 58 others were wounded, in addition to material damage", in residential neighbourhoods of Damascus.
The Observatory said rebels fired a barrage of at least 50 rockets and put the toll at five dead -- four civilians and a soldier -- with 59 people hurt.
Rebels often fire into the Syrian capital from rear bases on the outskirts of Damascus, including at times barrages of hundreds of missiles.
Rights groups have condemned indiscriminate rebel rocket fire into the capital as amounting to war crimes.
The government regularly carries out air strikes against rebel-held areas on the outskirts of Damascus, particularly Eastern Ghouta which is also under regime siege.
On Wednesday, Amnesty International accused the government of war crimes against Eastern Ghouta residents, saying heavy aerial bombardment was compounding misery created by the blockade.
More than 240,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict since it broke out in March 2011, and millions have been forced to flee their homes.