(DAMASCUS, Syria) — Violence is reaching a fever pitch in Damascus and its surrounding communities as a school was struck by mortar fire on Tuesday, leaving at least 29 people dead in what the Syrian state news agency alleged was an attack by rebel forces.
According to SANA, a shell struck the school in the northern suburb of Bteeha, killing a teacher and children. The news agency said it was the work of “terrorists,” the label President Bashar al-Assad has given to the opposition seeking his ouster after 20 months of fighting and fatalities in the tens of thousands.
Since the conflict has intensified over the past several months, rebels have been blamed for numerous assaults on government targets that have killed innocent civilians. There has even been acknowledgement from their supporters of this happening.
However, it remained unclear Tuesday who was responsible for the mortar strike on the Bteeha school, with a network of rebel groups called the Local Coordinating Committees refusing comment.
The town is one of many on the way to the central city of Homs, a flashpoint of violence between government forces and rebels. Bteeha, until Tuesday, had been largely immune from the fighting.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ivana Kottasova, CNN
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN
Alanna Petroff, CNN