Syrian army missiles strike civilian targets, killing 141
The Syrian military has stepped up ballistic missile strikes on rebel-held areas, including four attacks in the north last week that killed more than 141 people, including 71 children, according to US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“I have visited many attack sites in Syria, but have never seen such destruction,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at HRW, who inspected the areas.
“Just when you think things can’t get any worse, the Syrian government finds ways to escalate its killing tactics.”
Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoabi denied on Sunday that the government was using Scud missiles in the conflict, the Russia Today Arabic website reported.
As the now-militarised uprising against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad nears its two-year mark, the armed forces are using tanks, artillery and air strikes on residential areas as they battle insurgents for control of Syria’s main cities.
The UN estimates 70,000 people have been killed in a conflict that has raised tensions across the Middle East.
A HRW statement said there was no sign of fighters or rebel bases in areas hit by ballistic missiles, only civilians, meaning the attacks were unlawful. It said each strike had completely destroyed 15 to 20 houses and that the total death toll was probably higher than the 141 it had been able to document.
“Using ballistic missiles against its own people is a new low, even for this government,” Mr Solvang said.
Three of the targets were in an opposition-controlled eastern part of Aleppo, where rebel forces took half the city in July and August but are now stuck in a stalemate with the army.
The fourth missile struck Tel Rifat, a town north of Aleppo.