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Activists: 13 killed in airstrike near Damascus

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 14, 2013 at 7:57 a.m.

— A Syrian airstrike slammed into a house in a rebellious suburb of Damascus early Monday, killing at least 13 people including eight children, activists said, as President Bashar Assad’s regime ramped up its operations against the opposition strongholds ringing the capital.

Government forces have used warplanes and multiple rocket launchers over the past 24 hours in what activists described as some of the heaviest barrages of the Damascus region since the government launched an offensive in November to dislodge rebels from the capital’s outskirts.

At least 45 people were killed in a government barrage Sunday, opposition groups said.

The air raid early Monday struck a home in the southern suburb of Maadamiyeh when residents were still inside, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights and other activists said. Locals pulled 13 bodies — including those of eight children — from the rubble, the Observatory said, adding that at least seven more people remain trapped.

Syrian state media, however, refuted that account, and blamed rebels for the deaths in Maadamiyeh. The official SANA news agency said “terrorist” fired a shell at the neighborhood from nearby Daraya, hitting a residential building and causing casualties.

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