AFP –DAMASCUS — Shelling killed at least 15 students in Damascus on Thursday, with state media blaming “terrorists” — its term for Syrian rebels increasingly targeting President Bashar al-Assad’s seat of power.
“A total of 15 students were killed in a mortar attack launched by terrorists targeting the architecture faculty,” university dean Amer Mardini said, quoted by the official SANA news agency.
State media had previously reported a toll of 12 dead.
“The National Students Union condemns the cowardly terrorist attack that targeted the architecture faculty of Damascus University,” state television said.
SANA added that six others were hurt by “mortars that targeted the faculty cafeteria”.
Rebels fighting to oust Assad’s regime have this week escalated their mortar attacks on central Damascus, including Umayyad Square in the middle of the capital, which houses the state television headquarters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group that relies on sources on the ground for its information, also reported Thursday’s attack, although it put the toll at 10 people dead.
Al-Ikhbariya television, a pro-regime channel, showed footage of doctors treating young people with serious wounds, some of them unconscious.
“Because of the regular mortar attacks on Baramkeh and other areas in Damascus, residents no longer feel safe to walk in the streets or to go about their daily lives,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
“The regime has spent months trying to convince Damascus residents that the capital would stay safe. But now residents fear that if they go out, they may be hit by a mortar round at any moment,” he added.
“There are several security branches near the faculty, but it is impossible to stage a targeted mortar attack. The vast majority of victims of recent mortar attacks on Damascus have been