300 dead in 8 days of air raids on Syria's Aleppo: NGO

300 dead in 8 days of air raids on Syria's Aleppo: NGO

BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
300 dead in 8 days of air raids on Syrias Aleppo: NGO

Residents walk past debris at a site damaged by what activists said was an air raid by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, at Masaken Hanano in Aleppo, December 22, 2013. REUTERS Photo

Syrian warplanes have killed more than 300 people, including 87 children, in an eight-day bombing campaign against rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo, a monitor said Dec. 23.

“From Dec. 15 to 22, 301 people have been killed, including 87 children, 30 women and 30 rebels,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists and witnesses on the ground to track the civil war.

Opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accuse his forces of dropping explosives-filled barrels on rebel-held areas in an effort to demoralize their supporters and turn them against the insurgents.
A security source told Agence France-Presse yesterday that the army had adopted the tactic because of a lack of ground forces, and argued the heavy civilian toll was because the rebels were in residential areas.

Aleppo has been split between opposition and government forces since a massive rebel assault in the summer of 2012. Human Rights Watch has accused government forces of using weapons and tactics that fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants, making such attacks “unlawful.”

On Dec. 22 the main opposition National Coalition called on Western states to impose a no-fly zone to halt such attacks. “Until Assad’s warplanes are stopped, the humanitarian disaster, regional instability, and the rise of extremism will only continue to get worse,” Munzer Aqbiq, an adviser to the Coalition’s president, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a mortar round fired from struck the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights yesterday in what was believed to be “errant fire,” the army said. No casualties or damage was reported.

A military spokeswoman said that “a shell hit the central Golan Heights,” and that the army was investigating.

“Initial indications are that the shell was errant fire, part of the fighting in Syria,” she added.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers of the strategic plateau during the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally. Syria has always insisted on the return of the Golan as part of any peace treaty with the Jewish state. The ceasefire line had been mostly quiet until the Syrian uprising erupted in 2011.

The Israeli-occupied sector has been tense since then and with minor flare-ups when Syrian small arms fire or mortar rounds hit the Israeli side, prompting soldiers to fire back.