Jan 17 - Video footage shows damage to the Syrian rebel stronghold of Zabadani. Nick Rowlands reports.
Sitting amongst the foothills that make up the Syria-Lebanon border, residents in Zabadani say they are under constant bombardment by the Syrian army. The town is in the hands of rebels who say they are fighting a government crackdown. It has become a hub for deserters from the army, and despite the attacks, it appears to remain under the control of anti-government fighters. Amateur video footage obtained by Reuters shows a building damaged by shelling, which activists say is targeting "innocent people and children". Residents say it was hit on Thursday 12th January, shortly before government forces launched a massive crackdown on the town. The assault was the largest on opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since Arab League monitors arrived to oversee a peace plan that critics say has failed. Activists say around 200 families fled the town to escape bombardment by the 50 tanks they estimate were involved in the offensive. According to the United Nations, more than 5,000 people have been killed by security forces since pro-reform protests began in March. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.