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Syrian Army Shelling Reportedly Traps Hundreds In Mosque

Rebel fighters take positions during clashes with pro-government forces in Aleppo earlier this month.
AFP
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AFP/Getty Images
Rebel fighters take positions during clashes with pro-government forces in Aleppo earlier this month.

At least 200 people are trapped inside a mosque in the Syrian capital, Damascus, as government forces rain artillery on rebel-held areas.

Rasha Elass, in Beirut, reports for NPR that the Syrian opposition has pleaded with the United Nations to intervene.

According to The Syrian Coalition — a Western-backed opposition in exile — dozens of people are currently holed up inside the mosque in the working-class district of Qaboun, as government troops close in. However, Elass reports that it's not clear if the people sought refuge in the mosque from the shelling or were trapped there during regular prayers.

The group warned that thousands of civilians in Qaboun could be "massacred" by Assad's army and elite forces and its asked the international community to secure a safe passage for civilians.

The Associated Press quotes a Syrian military commander as saying forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have recaptured 60 percent of Jobar, south of Qaboun, and were trying to retake the rest.

"The commander talked to reporters Sunday during a military escorted tour of Jobar organized by the Information Ministry. His claim could not be independently verified.

An Associated Press reporter on the tour saw widespread destruction that pointed to heavy fighting in the neighborhood."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.