A Syrian firefighter douses a building in Damascus after the al-Bikhtiyar district was hit by mortars on March 13, 2013
In this image made available by the Syrian News Agency (SANA) on March 13, 2013, a firefighter douses a building in Damascus after mortar shells allegedly fell on the residential area of al-Bikhtiyar. © - Sana/AFP/File
A Syrian firefighter douses a building in Damascus after the al-Bikhtiyar district was hit by mortars on March 13, 2013
Last updated: March 16, 2013

Residents flee shelling in Damascus district

Syrian regime forces pounded the rebel-held town of Binesh near the Turkish border killing a woman and five children, and also rained shells on parts of Damascus on Saturday, a watchdog said.

Activists said the six people killed in Binesh were a woman and her five children, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not immediately confirm they were from the same family.

In March 2012, dozens of residents fled Binesh, in the northwestern province of Idlib, when shells slammed into the town as regime troops advanced in a bid to expel rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The Observatory said shells hit Binesh on Saturday, killing the woman and the children, as clashes broke out around the nearby town of Maaret al-Numan which rebels captured in October 2012.

At least 55 people were killed nationwide in Syria on Saturday, including 22 civilians, said the Observatory, which collects information from a network of representatives and medics on the ground.

On Friday, the day when the conflict entered its third year, at least 216 people were killed in violence across the country -- one of the highest figures for several weeks, the Observatory said.

Regime forces also pounded parts of Damascus on Friday night, sending residents fleeing from the northern Barzeh district, where snipers were deployed, the watchdog said.

Shells also slammed into the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk along with the Jubar, Barzeh and Qaboon neighbourhoods of Damascus on Saturday, it said.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which helps Palestinian refugees, said a member of its teaching staff had been killed in Khan Eshieh camp, southwest of Damascus.

Nasri Khalil Hasan was killed by shrapnel that hit him as he fled his home under artillery fire, UNRWA said, adding that Hasan was the sixth member of its staff in Syria to be killed in the conflict.

Elsewhere, fighting raged in the northern city of Aleppo, with at least 12 rebels reported killed in clashes with regime troops near the international airport.

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