World Bulletin / News Desk
Syrian troops killed at least 35 people on Wednesday, mostly unarmed civilians, when they shelled and overran a suburb of the capital Damascus, residents and activist organisations said.
"The tanks and troops left around 4 p.m. When the streets were clear we found the bodies of at least 35 men," a resident, who gave his name as Fares, said by phone from Jdeidet Artouz, southwest of Damascus.
"Almost all of them were executed with bullets to their face, head and neck in homes, gardens and basements," he added, speaking of the troop action to crush opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.
Fares, who did not give his last name for fear of retribution by Assad's forces, said soldiers from the Fourth Division, a praetorian guard unit under the command of Assad's brother Maher, came into his house.
"They examined my ID and let me go. They seem to have been looking for activists or young men with a certain profile to execute," he said.
He said the bodies were collected at the Omar bin al-Khattab mosque and buried in a mass grave dug by a bulldozer volunteered by the owner of nearby farmland.
"There are more bodies in al-Sahl area but we could not reach them because there is an army roadblock there," he said.
Another resident of the suburb said the total number of dead was at least 50.
Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 26 of 35 bodies his organisation tallied in Jdeidet Artouz have been identified and the victims were overwhelmingly civilians.
Worshippers released yellow and white balloons with Francis, flanked by security, circling the Cairo stadium on a golf cart and waving to the crowds as a chorus sang a joyous hymn.
Regime warplanes target Idlib, rebel-held Damascus, according to local civil defense sources
Pope’s visit coincides with 70th anniversary of launch of diplomatic relations between Egypt, Vatican
Decision follows Agramunt's March visit to Syria, and meeting with President Bashar al-Assad
Recently-appointed governor of southern Abyan province comes under fire while en route to Aden
Syrian Democratic Forces largely made up of PKK/PYD members, security officials say
The 80-year-old pontiff is due in Cairo around 1400 (1200 GMT) and his 27 hours on Egyptian soil will include a meeting with the grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, sealing a recent improvement in relations between Catholicism and the Sunni branch of Islam.
The GCC was formed in the wake of Iran's 1979 revolution and includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
Russia's military said a day after the attack that Syria's air defences would be boosted.
Ayman Nour was a candidate in the 2005 presidential election
Israel has not confirmed or denied an attack on Damascus early on Thursday morning
Houthis, allies yet to comment on reported air attack in southwestern Taiz province
In a report ahead of an international donor conference next week, it said Thursday that foreign aid alone cannot rescue the stagnant Palestinian economy without practical changes and Israeli cooperation.
But his visit comes as Al-Azhar, which runs one of the world's oldest universities, is under fire from critics within Egypt who say the Muslim institution has itself become part of the problem.
A loud explosion has been heard with a fire reported near Damascus airport
Saudi authorities claim to foil attack by Shia Houthi militia in kingdom’s southwestern Jazan region