BEIRUT

Middle East

Airstrikes, barrel bombs rain on Aleppo, Yabroud

  • Syrians look at the destruction following an airstrike by government forces on the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on March 5, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / BARAA AL-HALABI)

BEIRUT: Government airstrikes and barrel bombs tossed from helicopters rained down on the northern city of Aleppo and the rebel bastion of Yabroud Wednesday, killing at least four people and wounding a number of others.

The airstrikes pounded the neighborhoods of Marjeh, Sukkari, Jalloum and Aqbah, while 11 barrel bombs fell on the Masaken Hanano district, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Local activists said at least four people were killed on the strike on Sukkari, while artillery shells also struck a number of neighborhoods, fired by regime forces.

Clashes between government troops and rebel units in the neighborhood of Bustan al-Qasr saw casualties on both sides, the Observatory added.

In Aleppo’s Sheikh Najjar district, which has seen bouts of fierce clashes in recent days, rebel groups managed to kill and wound a number of regime troops, the Observatory said, while the clashes also killed a rebel fighter. The government side was backed by fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Observatory added.

Helicopters also dropped two barrel bombs on the village of Urum al-Kubra in rural Aleppo, according to local activists, but there were no reports of casualties.

Near the border with Lebanon in central Syria, one Hezbollah fighter was killed during fighting with jihadist groups and Islamist rebel brigades on the outskirts the town of Yabroud, the Observatory said. Government forces shelled Yabroud and surrounding areas, as part of an ongoing campaign in the Qalamoun region to choke off rebel supply lines leading to Lebanon.

A surface-to-surface missile also appeared to strike the town, the Observatory said.

Local activists from the Qalamoun Media Center said 17 airstrikes and 14 barrel bombs targeted Yabroud and surrounding areas, but wounded only five people. Most of the area has been depopulated during the regime-led campaign, backed by Hezbollah fighters and Iraqi Shiite militiamen.

Tuesday’s nationwide death toll, according to the Observatory, stood at 222 people, with the overwhelming majority – 201 – coming in the ranks of the various fighting groups. The Observatory said that two rebels were killed in the fighting in the Yabroud region Tuesday, when media accompanied government troops on a tour of the village of Sahl, next to Yabroud.

In Damascus, government forces Wednesday shelled the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, where two men also died due to malnutrition, the Observatory said.

Clashes in the Damascus suburb of Daraya killed two regime military personnel, and a helicopter dropped a barrel bomb on the area, although no casualties were reported. Also, a number of civilians managed to flee the Ghouta suburbs of the capital for the neighborhoods of Barzeh and Qaboun further north, the Observatory said.

A rebel fighter was killed in clashes in the village of Shebaa, south of the capital and near the road linking the capital with Damascus International Airport.

Fierce fighting between army troops and paramilitaries and rebel groups on the international highway between Aleppo and Hama, south of the village of Morek, and the regime side sustained a number of killed and wounded.

Two brothers, both defectors from the army, were killed in clashes with army troops and paramilitaries south of the village of Zara in Homs province, near the town of Tal Kalakh, the Observatory said.

Also, a rare eruption of fighting was reported in Swaida province, near the town of Salkhad. The Observatory said rebel groups fought with paramilitaries, police and intelligence personnel, and wounded a number of them.

In the east, Kurdish fighters from the PYD militia withdrew from the village of Tal Barrak, lying between the cities of Hassakeh and Qamishli.

The group issued a statement saying it was pulling out its fighters “based on a commitment of local and tribal leaders, and for the sake of Arab-Kurd brotherhood.”

The Observatory said that an agreement reached Tuesday between local residents and the PYD stipulated that tribal groups would be responsible for security in the village, while militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an Al-Qaeda splinter group, would be prevented from entering.

The Kurdish fighters and Islamist rebels, including members of ISIS, clashed late last month in fighting that killed 28 people, mostly on the rebel side, the Observatory said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 06, 2014, on page 8.
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Summary

Government airstrikes and barrel bombs tossed from helicopters rained down on the northern city of Aleppo and the rebel bastion of Yabroud Wednesday, killing at least four people and wounding a number of others.

Local activists said at least four people were killed on the strike on Sukkari, while artillery shells also struck a number of neighborhoods, fired by regime forces.

Clashes between government troops and rebel units in the neighborhood of Bustan al-Qasr saw casualties on both sides, the Observatory added.

The government side was backed by fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Observatory added.

Local activists from the Qalamoun Media Center said 17 airstrikes and 14 barrel bombs targeted Yabroud and surrounding areas, but wounded only five people.


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