BEIRUT: Syrian government shelling killed at least 16 people in a rebel-held area of the northern city of Aleppo, activists said, and at least one man was killed Friday inside Lebanon in cross-border fire from Syria, according to a security official.
The attacks came as Syrian negotiators were wrapping up a week of peace talks in Geneva - the first round of what is expected to be prolonged negotiations stretching several weeks or even months trying to find a solution to the devastating civil war.
The conflict, which began as largely peaceful protests against the rule of President Bashar Assad, shifted into an armed insurgency and became a full-blown civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes, including over 2 million who have mostly settled in neighboring countries. Syria's economy, meanwhile, lies in ruins as do many of the nation's cities, towns and villages.
In the northern city of Aleppo, government forces continued to unleash barrels packed with explosives and fuel from military helicopters over rebel-held areas. The crude barrels cannot strike targets with precision and cause massive damage upon impact.
The shelling has taken place as Syrian troops on the ground inch closer to rebel-held parts of Aleppo, which rebels seized in July 2012.
The latest strikes hit Aleppo on Thursday, killing at least 16 people, said Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Abdurrahman said the shelling targeted the area of Qadi Askar, and that it took hours to verify the number of the victims. The Aleppo Media Center, another activist group, also provided a similar report.
In the cross-border attack, Syrian government tanks fired into northern Lebanon to prevent rebels on the border from fleeing to Lebanese territory, said the security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.
According to the official, over a dozen shells exploded near a belt of rural communities stretching 19 kilometers (12 miles) along the Lebanon-Syria border in the mountainous northern Lebanese rural province of Akkar.
The barrage killed a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon and wounded two Lebanese.
Such shelling has become more common as Syria's conflict increasingly spills over into its smaller neighbor.