Syria Bombs Damascus Suburbs to Keep Rebels Out

BEIRUT (AP) -

War Envelops Region in ‘Staggering’ Crisis: Aid Agency

The Syrian government bombed areas around Damascus on Monday as part of its push to keep rebel fighters out of the capital, leaving many children among the dozens killed, anti-regime activists said.

An international aid organization cited such raids, along with widespread destruction, as key factors in the exodus of more than a half-million Syrians to neighboring countries since the conflict began in March 2011.

The International Rescue Committee said it could be “months, if not years” before the refugees can return home and warned that Syria’s civil war could enflame tensions in the Middle East.

After nearly two years of violence, it appears unlikely that the war will end soon. Although rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad have made gains in the country’s north and east and outside of Damascus, they have yet to seriously challenge his hold on the capital or other parts of the country.

In a report released Monday, the International Rescue Committee painted a grim picture of what life has become for Syrians in war-torn areas.

According to a 32-page report, based on interviews with Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq in November 2012, Syrians face brutal killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, frequent airstrikes, violence and diminishing medical services, the report said.