BEIRUT, July 26 (Reuters) - Rocket fire killed at least 16 people, including women and children, during an army offensive in the southern Damascus district of Yalda on Thursday, Syrian opposition activists said.
One activist in the area said a salvo of rockets fired from multiple launchers hit two buildings, where most of the casualties occurred.
The attack took place as Syrian forces backed by helicopter gunships bombarded the nearby southern district of Hajar al-Aswad, one of the last strongholds in Damascus of rebels battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
"This happened at around 5 p.m. (1400 GMT)," said activist Osama al-Shami. "Some wounded are still on the ground and we are trying to help them."
Shami put the death toll at 20 while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in Syria, said 16 people were killed, including four women and five children.
The Observatory also said the bodies of 12 rebels were found in the al-Ajami area near the Jordanian border, in the south of the country. It said they were killed in shelling on Wednesday.
"The fighters were helping residents to flee the shelling when they were killed, 10 fighters are still missing," said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the British-based Observatory.
(Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Giles Elgood)