Syria air strikes kill 15 in hard-hit Aleppo
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
People run on debris at a site hit by what activists said was an air strike from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS photoSyrian air strikes killed 15 people, including three children, in Aleppo on Tuesday, as the regime pressed a blistering nine-day bombing campaign that has killed hundreds, a monitoring group said.
One activist in Aleppo described the past nine days as "the most violent in the whole of the Syrian revolution," a civil war that has claimed more than 126,000 lives since March 2011 and displaced millions of people.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the killing of 364 people, among them 105 children, 33 women and 30 fighters, in the massive air campaign in and around Aleppo, the country's second city and onetime commercial hub.
On Tuesday Syrian aircraft targeted Sukkari, a rebel district in southeastern Aleppo city, as well as Urum al-Kubra in Atareb, northwest of the provincial capital, according to the Observatory, a Britain-based group that relies on a network of witnesses inside Syria.
Activists also reported an airstrike against Azaz, on Syria's border with Turkey.
Video footage distributed by Shahba Press, a network of activists in the region, showed men covered in dust carrying a woman through a destroyed street in the Sukkari neighbourhood.
Other men carried out a baby and an older child, all survivors of the bombing.
The Observatory called on "the international community, the UN secretary general and anyone with a conscience to take immediate action to stop these indiscriminate killings of Syrian civilians." The group added: "If they do not react, the Observatory will consider them to be complicit... in the massacres that are being committed in Syria each day." Aleppo has been divided into regime and rebel-held enclaves since the opposition launched a massive offensive in July last year.
Rebel areas have since suffered frequent bombardment, but an activist in Aleppo told AFP via the Internet that the latest attacks are unprecedented.
"The past 10 days in Aleppo have been the most violent in the whole of the Syrian revolution," said Mohammad Wissam, a 19-year-old activist.
"When the planes come, people freeze, they stand, look up at the sky, and wait for the bombing, feeling helpless.
"Then when the bombing starts, so does the panic. People run aimlessly in all directions, looking for anywhere to hide, but there is nowhere to hide. So many people are getting trapped under the rubble of collapsing buildings," Wissam told AFP.
"When the helicopters start launching the TNT-packed barrels, it's like madness grips everyone... The bombing is random." The opposition National Coalition on Monday warned it would boycott peace talks slated for January if the bombing of Aleppo does not cease.
Rights groups have widely condemned the use of TNT-packed barrels dropped from helicopters as unlawful because they fail to discriminate between civilians and combatants.
But a security source in Damascus on Tuesday defended the military's operations to "save Aleppo." "We do not target any area unless we are 100 percent sure that the ones there are terrorists," the source said, using the regime's term for the rebels.
"The bodies you see on television are the bodies of terrorists and mercenaries, most of whom travelled into Syria from abroad."