Conflict & Justice

Damascus mortar fire hits near UN inspectors' hotel, kills child


A United Nations vehicle carrying weapons inspectors leaves a hotel in Damascus on Oct. 11, 2013.


Jiang Tieying

Mortar rounds struck about 1,000 feet away from the hotel of United Nations staff and chemical weapons inspectors in the Syrian capital on Saturday, according to regime-controlled media.

The blasts killed an 8-year-old girl and injured 11 people in Abu Roumaneh near Dar al-Salam School, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported on Twitter.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based pro-opposition watchdog group that monitors Syria's civil war, said on its Facebook page that the young girl was in a car when the mortar struck. 

"The Observatory documented the death of a child who was killed by a mortar falling on the Sha'lan area in central Damascus this afternoon. The shell fell on a taxi she and her family were riding near the Dar al-Salam school," the watchdog group said.

A UN employee told The Associated Press the hotel where inspectors are staying did not appear to have been damaged in the attack, and that it was still open for business. Previously, unidentified gunmen shot at a convoy carrying chemical weapon inspectors, though no one was injured in the incident.

It's not uncommon for mortar rounds to strike the Syrian Capital. On Wednesday, two rounds hit Syria’s central bank in Sabaa Bahrat Square, and a week before that another mortar hit the Iraqi consulate and killed a woman, according to Agence France-Presse

Chemical weapons inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a group awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this week, are in charge of destroying the estimated 1,000 ton chemical weapons arsenal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. That work is ongoing, and according to officials is proceeding on schedule.