BEIRUT

Middle East

Airstrikes target Daraya, Aleppo, leave 11 dead

A man shows the way to two Syrian women as they leave a building following an alleged air strike by Syrian government forces on January 30, 2014 in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED AL-KHATIEB)

BEIRUT: At least 11 people, including three children, were killed Thursday by explosive-packed barrels dropped from Syrian army helicopters over the town of Daraya, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two women were also among the dead and others were injured in the attacks on the town in Damascus province.

Activists posted several pieces of video footage of the “barrel bomb” strike, from the moment of impact of the crude device to a tour of a chalky-white scene of devastation, where they encountered one of the survivors, who was wounded in the hand and appeared to be in shock.

A third piece of footage shows residents as they discover a human foot sticking out from under the debris, as a bulldozer is used to clear some of the wreckage.

The residents estimate that between three to five barrel bombs struck the area.

The video, posted by the Local Council for the town, could not be independently verified. A resident at the scene talks bitterly about the ongoing “Geneva II” peace talks, and how they have failed to halt airstrikes against the rebel-held suburb.

Regime forces resorted to using barrel bombs in systematic fashion, primarily against targets in the city of Aleppo, in mid-December, causing several hundred casualties.

In the city of Aleppo, at least eight people were killed in regime air raids on the district of Qadi Askar, the Observatory said.

The Observatory said that the helicopters also dropped barrel bombs on the neighborhoods of Maadi, and Maysar in the city of Aleppo, the village of Kafr Zeita and two other rural areas of Hama province, although no casualty figures were available. In the Idlib town of Saraqeb, a government airstrike targeted a hospital and killed a doctor there, while wounding a number of other people.

The group reported at least six regime troops were killed when an Islamist rebel brigade blew up a building in the Karam al-Turab district, in the southeastern part of the city.

Another 10 regime troops were killed in a blast targeting a second building in a village on the outskirts of the town of Khanasser in Aleppo province overnight, the NGO said. The nearby Nairab military airport was also targeted by the rebels, using mortar bombs, causing an unspecified number of dead and wounded.

A car bomb exploded in the city of Aleppo, wounding two rebels, the NGO said, without indicating who was behind the incident.

Meanwhile, in central Homs province, the Observatory said at least 16 regime troops were killed in an overnight attack on an army checkpoint by Islamist rebels in an area west of the city of Homs.

Fierce clashes raged overnight pitting regime troops backed by pro-regime militants and fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the jihadist Nusra Front and Islamist rebels in the area around Qusair, the group said.

The fighting left casualties on both sides, the Observatory said.

As part of the ongoing clashes between Al-Qaeda militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and an array of rebel groups, the Observatory said that a leading figure from ISIS had disappeared, although it was unclear whether the individual had fled, was killed, or had defected.

It said that while ISIS militants had released four rebels from rival Islamist groups in the province of Iraq, they also summarily executed a number of others, including commanders, from the same group of Islamist militias.

Fighting between ISIS and rebel groups began on Jan. 3 and has been mainly centered in Idlib, Aleppo and Raqqa provinces.

But in the central province of Hama, the Observatory said that ISIS fighters seized a tank and around 12 Islamist rebels during clashes near an oil facility.

In the border village of Rai near the Turkish border, fighters from ISIS and a rebel group continued to clash, with an unspecified number of casualties on both sides, the Observatory said.

Fierce clashes have also broken out in the province of Qunaitra between regime troops and rebels in recent days, killing at least 12 rebels, the Observatory said.

In Damascus, the southern neighborhood of Midan was targeted by a mortar bomb that wounded three people, the Observatory said, without identifying the source of the attack.

Links:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_fjFlo4UHw

Moment of impact

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6sTAEcg_Z0#t=41

Barrel bomb survivor

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN-j4q3nqDE

Searching for casualties

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 31, 2014, on page 8.

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Summary

At least 11 people, including three children, were killed Thursday by explosive-packed barrels dropped from Syrian army helicopters over the town of Daraya, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two women were also among the dead and others were injured in the attacks on the town in Damascus province.

In the city of Aleppo, at least eight people were killed in regime air raids on the district of Qadi Askar, the Observatory said.

The group reported at least six regime troops were killed when an Islamist rebel brigade blew up a building in the Karam al-Turab district, in the southeastern part of the city.

Another 10 regime troops were killed in a blast targeting a second building in a village on the outskirts of the town of Khanasser in Aleppo province overnight, the NGO said.

In central Homs province, the Observatory said at least 16 regime troops were killed in an overnight attack on an army checkpoint by Islamist rebels in an area west of the city of Homs.


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