BEIRUT – Eighteen people were killed on Monday in airstrikes and artillery barrages targeting rebel-held areas near the Syrian capital Damascus following a weekend of heavy bombardment that claimed dozens of lives, a UK-based war monitor said.
The overall death toll in the eastern Ghouta region since government forces began bombing on Sunday has risen to 43, while scores more have been injured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Nine people were died Monday during airstrikes in the town of Madira, while three others were killed in Mesraba and one in Arbin.
Five other people, including a minor, were killed by artillery fire from government forces in Douma, the largest city in eastern Ghouta.
The attacks targeted areas controlled by Islamist factions Jaish al-Islam and al-Rahman Legion.
As the bombing commenced, an epa photographer in Douma captured images of bloodied bodies at a local hospital.
The air raids took place a day ahead of the scheduled start of UN-sponsored peace negotiations in Geneva.
Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for several years by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and both Russian and Syrian planes have carried out airstrikes there in the past.