Twelve people were killed, among them a child, in Syrian army shelling late Wednesday on Douma, a rebel-held town near Damascus, a monitoring group said.
"At least 12 people were killed, among them a child and a woman... in fierce shelling by regime troops on several areas of Douma," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"Several dozens more, including children, were wounded," said the Britain-based group, which relies on a broad network of activists, doctors and lawyers for its reports.
Douma is a rebel bastion northeast of Damascus, which has been under suffocating army siege for more than a year.
An AFP photographer in Douma said the shelling hit several parts of the town, among them a busy market area.
"The shelling came suddenly. One minute, children were playing in the market, the next, there were body parts and wounded people everywhere," Abd Doumany said.
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The photographer also described graphic scenes at one of the town's ill-equipped field hospitals.
"The wounded were being treated on the floor," he said, adding that the hospital he visited reported 28 wounded children.
Some of the wounded lay next to pools of blood. Among the severely wounded were small children, he said.
Amateur video distributed by activists in Douma showed several visibly wounded babies and children, their clothes covered in blood, some of them lying on the floor in the crowded hospital, as the sound of wailing and crying could be heard.
Syria's war has killed more than 170,000 people, and forced nearly half the population to flee their homes.
It began as a peaceful uprising demanding President Bashar al-Assad's ouster, but morphed into a war after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.