Syria crisis: University of Damascus hit by mortars

Aftermath of mortar strike at University of Damascus (picture from official Syrian news agency Sana - 28/03/13) The mortars hit a cafeteria in the university, state TV said

Mortar fire has hit the University of Damascus, killing 15 students, Syrian state media say.

Officials blamed rebels for the attack, saying a number of people had also been injured.

It said the mortars had hit the university's faculty of architecture.

The Syrian capital is in the grip of heavy fighting between government and rebel forces, who have recently intensified the use of mortars in the city, correspondents say.

State-run al-Ikhbariya TV said the mortars had hit a cafeteria. The station showed footage of doctors trying to save victims amid a scene of upturned tables and chairs, shattered glass and blood on the floor.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based activist group, said several rounds had hit, inflicting a "large number of injuries".

At least five people have been killed by mortar fire in the centre of Damascus since Monday, AFP news agency said. Mortars landed near the university's law faculty earlier this week.

The UN says at least 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting in Syria since protests against President Bashar al-Assad began two years ago.

Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports about the transfer of a group of Syrian refugees from Turkey back to Syria.

It follows clashes on Wednesday between police and a number of refugees protesting against poor living conditions, at a camp near the Akcakale in Turkey, near the Syrian border.

The police fired tear gas and a number of people were injured, says the BBC's James Reynolds in Istanbul.

Turkish news agency Dogan says Turkey has deported several hundred refugees from the camp for playing a role in the unrest.

But the Turkish Foreign Ministry disputes this account. One official told the BBC that 50 to 60 refugees asked to leave the camp and return to Syria - and they were allowed to do so, our correspondent says.

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