Air campaign on Aleppo extended

December 20, 2013 - 3:38:39 am

Syrian-Kurdish refugee families receive food aid at the Quru Gusik (Kawergosk) refugee camp, 20km east of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, yesterday.

BEIRUT: Syrian warplanes pounded northern Aleppo for a fifth consecutive day yesterday, unleashing their firepower against several rebel-held villages in the province, activists and a monitoring group said.

The latest attacks have killed at least 11 people in just two of the targeted villages, among them four women and two children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“After four days of helicopters dropping barrel bombs on Aleppo city, the regime changed the direction of its raids and struck the village of Tal Alam near Sfeira” southeast of Syria’s second city, the Aleppo Media Centre said on Facebook.

Another activist network in the province, Shahba Press, reported air raids on Daret Ezza, Marea, Minbej and Anadan north of Aleppo city.

The villages targeted have been rebel-held for more than a year and have suffered frequent bombing.

But activists called yesterday’s raids an extension of a deadly five-day aerial campaign against the provincial capital itself.

The Observatory also reported the attacks, adding that the Aleppo area of Sheikh Najjar was hit with makeshift barrel bombs which are packed with TNT and are highly destructive.

The Britain-based group also updated its toll from warplane and barrel bomb attacks on Aleppo city to 161 people killed between Sunday and yesterday.

Yesterday alone, at least 11 others were killed in Minbej and Daret Ezza, said the Britain-based group.

Doctors Without Borders had reported more than 189 killed by Wednesday evening from such attacks in Aleppo city alone.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said it would be difficult, “if not impossible”, for the regime’s military to advance on opposition areas of the country’s former commercial hub.

“But I think it is trying to make the population turn against the rebels, so that the people themselves expel the fighters,” he said.

One Syrian security source has denied that barrel bombs have been used against what the regime calls “terrorists,” but another said the military prefers such weapons over missiles because they are cheaper.

Meanwhile, Syria’s deputy foreign minister yesterday said the body of a British doctor whose death in a Syrian jail was announced this week will be transported to Britain’s embassy in Beirut.

“At the family’s request, the Syrian authorities and International Committee of the Red Cross are carrying out a final autopsy to find out the causes of Abbas Khan’s death,” said Faisal Muqdad. “Then his body will be transferred to Lebanon, by tomorrow (Friday) at the latest,” he said, adding that the body will be “handed over to the British embassy in Beirut”.

AFP

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