Report: Syrian officials accused of child torture
Ambassador dismisses allegations as 'hostile propaganda'
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari has condemned a report by the United Nations that his country has engaged in child torture during the 18-month uprising there. The report came out of the office of the U.N.'s Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. Jaafari has called the report hostile propaganda, saying that armed groups were violating the rights of children, not the government.
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari has condemned a report by the United Nations that his country has engaged in child torture during the 18-month uprising there.
"These groups have destroyed more than 2,600 schools and kindergartens.
"They have also targeted health centers. These are acts that are detailed in UNICEF reports.
"It is these armed groups who are violating the rights of Syria's children," he said.
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In the meantime, the bloodshed in Syria rages on, with activists reporting renewed shelling in the Aleppo province and more fighting in Douma, a battleground town near Damascus, the capital.
Syria's information ministry said that a military helicopter crashed near the capital Damascus, after it hit the tail of a passenger plane. The plane made a successful emergency landing and all passengers escaped unharmed, the information ministry said.
"The helicopter struck the tail of the plane ... The control tower at Damascus airport confirmed that the plane landed safely at Damascus airport and all 200 passengers are in good health," a statement published on the state news channel said.
Rebel fighters have claimed to have shot down the helicopter, a human rights watchdog reported, as Syria's opposition declared parts of the capital a "disaster area."
Explosions have rocked Douma, northeast of the capital of Damascus, shortly before the rebels shot down the helicopter.
"A helicopter went down in the Tall al-Kurdi area near Douma," said the UK-based observatory, citing activists in the area. The aircraft "was shot down by rebels" after the blasts.
In the meantime, pro-government Addounia TV said that Syrian armed forces had carried out hundreds of arrests of what it called "terrorists" at al-Talnaa garden and al-Waseem mosque in the Yarmouk refugee camp.
Iran's Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani said that his country had held talks with Syrian opposition groups, according to a transcript of an interview released by the U.K.'s Financial Times.
Larijani described the Syrian opposition as "multi-layered," without a unified leader. "They have various intentions and opinions," he told journalists.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Child torture, Syria, uprising, bloodshed, United Nations
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