Attacks in Syria on Damascus and Homs kill at least 59
Damascus and Homs targeted as watchdog says it will investigate chlorine bomb claims
Agence France-Presse in Damascus
At least 59 people were killed in attacks in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Homs yesterday, as an international watchdog said it would probe alleged chlorine attacks in the country.
A barrage of mortar shells fired by rebels hit a central neighbourhood in the capital, killing at least 14 people, state media said.
"Fourteen citizens were killed and 86 others wounded by terrorists who targeted the Shaghur neighbourhood in Damascus," the SANA news agency reported.
The attack hit a school of Islamic law, where some students are as young as 14, though it was unclear if children were among those killed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the toll in the attack at 17, adding that the figure could rise because several of the injured were in critical condition.
Hours later, a car bomb ripped through a crowded area of the country's third city Homs, followed shortly afterwards by a rocket attack on the same neighbourhood, the provincial governor said.
Talal Barazi said 45 people were killed in the double attack on the Zahra neighbourhood.
He said 36 died in the car bomb blast and another nine in the rocket fire that followed.
"The rocket fell about half an hour after the bombing on the same area, where there was a crowd of people" trying to help those wounded in the blast, he said.
The attack was one of the deadliest to hit the central city, where rebels control just a few remaining districts, most of them under a tight government siege.
In the Hague, meanwhile, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it would examine allegations that chlorine had been used in attacks in Syria.
The watchdog's chief, Ahmet Uzumcu, announced "the creation of an OPCW mission to establish facts surrounding allegations of use of chlorine in Syria", a statement said.
The Syrian regime and rebels have blamed each other for the use of chlorine in at least one attack, in the rebel-held town of Kafr Zita in Hama province, with the opposition alleging the government carried out more.
The OPCW is already in Syria overseeing a deal under which Damascus is to turn over its chemical weapons arsenal by June 30.