Damascus: Opposition activists say Syrian government helicopter gunships have struck a suburb of the capital, Damascus, a day after air strikes on nearby areas killed at least 45 people.Two activist groups – the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees – say Monday’s strikes targeted the southwestern suburb of Daraya.There was no immediate word on casualties.The attacks come after government air strikes and bombardment Sunday of several eastern Damascus suburbs killed at least 45, according to the Observatory. The LCC said 49 were killed in strikes in the Douma, Saqba and Arbeen suburbs.Syria’s state-run news agency and residents said Sunday’s ai rstrikes followed volleys of mortar shells fired into Damascus by rebels in the area that had killed three people, including a child, and wounded 33.The suburb known as Eastern Ghouta is held by rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Al Assad. The fighters often launch mortars into Damascus, Al Assad’s seat of power.Sunday’s barrage was particularly strong and sustained, shaking residents out of bed in the early morning as shells struck residential districts.
The shelling came as the United Nations humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, was visiting Damascus to review humanitarian work and assess the impact on civilians of the intensified fighting and military operations.Following a meeting with Foreign Minister Walid Al Mu’allem, O’Brien said he was pursuing efforts to have humanitarian aid reach all Syrian people. Al Mu’allem, according to SANA, emphasized the need for reconciliation and local truces to help in that regard.More than 250,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in Syria’s nearly five-year old conflict, which has left the country divided and devastated.