Barrel bombs dropped on Aleppo kill over 80 people

Syrian army steps up bombardment of rebel-held area

Residents react during what activists said was an air raid by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad on Aleppo over the weekend. Photograph: Reuters/Saad Abobrahim

Residents react during what activists said was an air raid by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad on Aleppo over the weekend. Photograph: Reuters/Saad Abobrahim

Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 01:00


Violence escalated in Syria following the first round of unproductive peace talks in Geneva between government and opposition.

Government helicopters dropped more improvised “barrel bombs” in a stepped-up bombardment of insurgent-held eastern Aleppo, killing up to 85 people, the majority of whom were civilians, reported the Britain-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said the hardest-hit neighbourhood was Tariq al-Bab, which was targeted at least eight times yesterday alone.

The use of barrel bombs – oil drums or cylinders packed with explosives and metal fragments – has drawn international condemnation.

Beheading

Meanwhile, insurgents linked to al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), are reported to have killed Adnan Bakkour, the commander of the rival fundamentalist Tawhid brigades, a member of the Saudi-backed Islamic Front that seeks to crush the Isis.

In Hama, the Isis killed Abu Hussein al-Dik, a leader of the powerful Suqour al-Sham faction, another constituent of the Islamic Front.

Isis fighters said to be Russian speakers and non-Syrian Arabs are reported to have decapitated a suspected pro-government Shia militiaman and posted a video of the beheading on the internet.

Evacuated civilians

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent evacuated hundreds of ill and malnourished civilians from the Palestinian camp in the Yarmouk suburb of Damascus as the UN Relief and Works Agency distributed food parcels.

Meanwhile, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon yesterday condemned the suicide bombing at a petrol pump in the Lebanese Shia village of Hermel near the border with Syria that killed four.

The UN Security Council called on the Lebanese people to unify their ranks and urged the authorities to “bring the perpetrators to justice”.

The strike on Hermel was claimed by the Lebanese branch of al-Qaeda’s official Syrian franchise Jabhat al-Nusra, which accused Iran-allied Hizbullah of carrying out “crimes against our people in beloved Aleppo”. The Jabhat also pledged to mount fresh attacks to discourage Hizbullah guerillas from going to Syria.

This is the third bombing mounted by the Lebanese arm of the Jabhat, demonstrating once again, that the conflict in Syria has spilled across its borders and is threatening neighbouring countries. – (additional reporting by Reuters)