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Syrian air raids kill 42 near Damascus

Seven Syrian children and two women are among the dead following government airstrikes against the besieged town of Douma
Wounded Syrian children are treated at a makeshift hospital in the rebel-held town of Douma on 11 September, 2014, after reported airstrikes by Syrian government forces (AFP)

Syrian government air raids on a rebel-held area near Damascus killed 42 people, including seven children, a monitoring group said Friday, giving an updated toll.

Thursday's air strikes were carried out in Douma, a satellite suburb northeast of the capital that has been under siege for more than a year

"The toll from regime air raids on Douma has risen to 42 dead, including seven children and two women," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which on Thursday had given a death toll of 17.

The assault also wounded nearly 200 people, all of whom were transferred to nearby hospitals.

Among those killed were an unspecified number of rebels who have been fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad for more than three years, said the group.

Activists posted videos on YouTube showing the destruction caused by the raids in Douma, a frequent target of deadly strikes.

People could be seen carrying the charred remains of victims amid scenes of panic as firefighters battled to put out blazes in several buildings.

Yusuf al-Bostany, a local activist who witnessed the attack, told Anadolu Agency that approximately ten buildings had also been destroyed.

"People were stunned by the number of casualties from the attack. They have begun to extract the dead and wounded from the wreckage of demolished buildings," he said.

Al-Bostany stressed that the high death toll is a result of four consecutive shillings by the Assad regime in the region.

"Syrian army's aircrafts bombarded Douma and Jobar areas all day long," he added.

Elsewhere, the Syrian army announced that it had taken control of the area of Halfaya in Syria's central province of Hama.

In a statement, it said the capture came after it gained control of several villages in the area and killed a number of fighters, many of whom it said were non-Syrian.

On Thursday, the Observatory said Syrian troops backed by Iranian officers had taken large parts of Halfaya from rebels including Al-Nusra Front.

The Observatory says more than 180,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since it erupted in March 2011, while the United Nations puts the figure at 191,000.

Millions have been displaced, both internally and externally.

Opponents of Assad took up arms in response to a bloody crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings.

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