BEIRUT

Middle East

Barrel bombs hit Aleppo, kill at least 31

Rescuers remove bodies after Syrian regime helicopters allegedly dropped barrel bombs on the Sukkari neighbourhood, an opposition-held district in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on June 16, 2014, killing at least 20 people, including several children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. AFP PHOTO/BARAA AL-HALABI

BEIRUT: Regime helicopters Monday dropped barrel bombs on opposition-held districts in the city of Aleppo, killing at least 31 people including several children, anti-regime activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a number of people were injured, some seriously, in the attacks on the Sukkari and Ashrafieh neighborhoods and the number of dead was expected to rise.

The Britain-based group of activists distributed gruesome images from the scene of the attacks on Sukkari, where it said 25 people were killed, showing residents holding body parts of victims from the raid.

Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman said a first attack created chaos, with residents and medics rushing to the scene to help.

Several minutes after the first attack, a second bomb hit the same site, with those present trying to flee but many failing to do so in time.

A woman and two children were among the dead, along with two members of the neighborhood’s local council – one of them was the father of two children who have been killed during the war, according to local activists.

Video footage posted by activists showed a young distraught girl telling emergency personnel that four members of her family, including her mother, were missing in the aftermath of the strikes.

A number of people were pulled from under the rubble, activists said.

Another six people died in a separate barrel bomb attack in a rebel-held area of the Ashrafieh neighborhood, north of the city.

Syria’s regime has waged a fierce aerial offensive against rebel-held parts of Aleppo since last December.

The Observatory said in May the campaign had killed nearly 2,000 people – more than a quarter of them children – since the beginning of 2014.

Rights groups have decried the regime’s use of barrel bombs as unlawful because they lack an aiming mechanism, causing indiscriminate casualties.

Tens of thousands of people have fled Aleppo’s opposition districts because of the aerial campaign.

Elsewhere, the Observatory said 13 people, including eight children, were killed Sunday night by rebel shelling of a government-held area in the town of Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province.

In recent weeks, leading rebel militias have pledged to avoid targeting civilian areas in regime-held territory, but observers say that such actions are usually justified in the end by rebel claims of a regime military or intelligence presence at a given location.

Government airstrikes Monday killed at least three people in rural parts of Idlib province, while barrel bombs targeted a village in Idlib, with no information on casualties.

The Observatory said barrel bomb strikes also targeted a number of rural areas of Deraa province in the south, killing one woman in one incident and a father and his son in another. It said barrel bombs were dropped on the Damascus suburb of Daraya, along with Khan al-Shih, south of the capital.

Daily death tolls from the conflict have routinely topped the grim mark of 200 people in recent months. The Observatory said Sunday’s overall figure stood at 238 people, with 91 from the ranks of regime forces and paramilitary allies, and 100 from the ranks of rebel and jihadist militias.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 17, 2014, on page 8.

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Summary

Regime helicopters Monday dropped barrel bombs on opposition-held districts in the city of Aleppo, killing at least 31 people including several children, anti-regime activists said.

Another six people died in a separate barrel bomb attack in a rebel-held area of the Ashrafieh neighborhood, north of the city.

Elsewhere, the Observatory said 13 people, including eight children, were killed Sunday night by rebel shelling of a government-held area in the town of Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province.

Government airstrikes Monday killed at least three people in rural parts of Idlib province, while barrel bombs targeted a village in Idlib, with no information on casualties.


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