BEIRUT, Jun 9 – The Syrian army killed at least 17 civilians, including nine women and three children, in the flashpoint southern town of Daraa early on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The killings took place in a residential neighbourhood of the town where the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March last year, the British-based watchdog said.
Dozens of people were also wounded in the pre-dawn bombardment, some of them seriously, the Observatory said.
Mobile communications in the town were cut off on Saturday morning, it added.
On Friday, a total of 68 people were killed nationwide, according to the Observatory’s figures. They consisted of 36 civilians, 25 soldiers and seven rebel fighters.
Fighting between government troops and rebels has intensified in recent days, particularly in the capital Damascus, where two army defectors were among the seven rebels killed on Friday.
The deaths in Daraa came amid an international outcry over the killings of civilians on Wednesday in an assault on Al-Kubeir, a Sunni farming enclave of some 150 people in the central province of Hama which is encircled by Alawite villages.
The Observatory said that 55 people were killed, among them women and children.
UN truce monitors who visited the village were unable to give a death toll.
But UN chief Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council that preliminary evidence showed that troops had surrounded Al-Kubeir and militia entered the village and killed civilians with “barbarity.”
The government denied responsibility and and blamed foreign-backed “terrorists”, as it has repeatedly in the past.
More than 13,500 people have been killed since the uprising erupted, according to the Observatory’s figures.