Syria: UN fears for Homs children; rebels seize Damascus arms depot
UN group points to plight of women, children in Homs, claiming battles, checkpoints infringe ability to serve 400,000 civilians 'living in partially constructed buildings'. Meanwhile, rebels seize 'anti-tank weapons, ground-to-ground Grad missile' near Damascus
Meanwhile, rebels battling President Bashar Assad's regime captured an arms and ammunition dump in the Qalamun area near Damascus early on Saturday, a monitoring watchdog said.
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"The situation of women and children in the Syrian city of Homs is rapidly deteriorating," UNICEF said in a statement, adding that "new checkpoints are preventing more supplies from entering" the neighborhood of Al-Waer.
Syrian children in refugee camp (Photo: AP)
"Cannot all those involved agree that the innocent women and children in Homs, and across Syria, should be spared all possible suffering?" UNICEF's Executive Director Anthony Lake asked.
Around 400,000 civilians, mostly women and children, who were forced to flee other areas of Homs have sought refuge in Al-Waer, and are now "living in partially constructed buildings, schools and other public buildings", Lake said.
But the situation there "has worsened, with reports of intense daily clashes, and rocket and mortar strikes causing many casualties", he added.
Destruction in Homs (Photo: AP)
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several groups, including the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, were behind the capture of the depot of anti-tank weapons and rockets.
"Liwa al-Islam, Al-Nusra Front, Al-Tawhid battalion, the Maghaweer (rebel commando force) and the Qalamun Martyrs' battalion... captured an ammunition depot near the village of Qaldun in the Qalamun area" northeast of the capital, the Britain-based Observatory said.
They seized "anti-tank weapons and ground-to-ground Grad missiles, as well as a variety of other ammunition, after clashes overnight from Friday to Saturday", it said.
In Damascus itself, fighting was reported in the flash-point southern belt, as loyalist forces pressed a months-long bid to dislodge rebels from the city's outskirts.
Elsewhere, the army shelled rebel-held areas of the central city of Homs, focusing on the neighborhoods of Juret al-Shiyah and Qussur, said the Observatory.
After the rebels lost the Khaldiyeh district this week, the army has pushed on with its bid to dislodge them completely from Syria's third city.
A Turkish man was killed on Saturday by a stray bullet fired across the border from Syria into the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar, security sources said.
Ramazan Zeybel, 45, died in hospital. He was the fourth Turkish citizen to be killed by stray shells and bullets fired during clashes in the neighbouring Syrian town of Ras al-Ain.
With an ethnic mix of Arabs, Kurds and others, Ras al-Ain has been a focus of clashes for months, with Kurdish militias fighting for control against Arab rebel fighters from the al Qaeda-linked hardline Sunni Islamist Al-Nusra Front.
The UN says more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's war, most of them civilians and millions more have been forced to flee their homes, about 75 percent of them women and children.
On Friday alone, at least 110 people were killed across Syria, the Observatory said.
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