Syrian air strike kills 30 civilians


An air strike by a Syrian jet in the northern town of Azaz killed 30 people today and wounded 150, a doctor from a local hospital said.

The doctor, who identified himself only by his first name Mohammad, was speaking at the scene of the bombardment, where dozens of men were sifting through the rubble.

Residents in the northern border town of Azaz screamed and shouted "God is greatest" as they carried bloodied bodies from collapsed concrete buildings, video posted by activists showed.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens had been killed. One activist in the town said at least 30 bodies had been found and rescuers were searching for more.

Video footage, which could not be verified, showed crowds of residents wrestling with steel bars and pulling away a giant slab of concrete to reveal the dust-covered arm of a child.

Meanwhile, a UN expert panel has concluded that Syrian government forces and militia have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity on civilians.

In a report that provides in chilling detail further evidence of a conflict spiralling out of control, the panel appointed by the UN’s 47-nation

Human Rights Council blamed the government and allied militia for the killing of more than 100 civilians in the village of Houla in May.

It said the murders, unlawful killing, torture, sexual violence and indiscriminate attacks “indicate the involvement at the highest levels of the armed and security forces and the government.”

The panel also concluded in its final report to the Geneva-based council that anti-government armed groups committed war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial killings and torture, but at a lesser frequency and scale.

The report covers the period between February 15th and July 20th and involved 1,062 interviews, both in the field and in Geneva. But the panel members emphasised their lack of ability to carry out their UN mandate within Syria hampered their investigation.

Activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria’s revolt, inspired by other Arab Spring uprisings against autocratic regimes in the region.

The conflict has slowly changed into a full blown civil war that the panel says involves “more brutal tactics and new military capabilities on both sides.”

Dr Assad's forces have increasingly used helicopter gunships and warplanes against the lightly-armed insurgents.

In Damascus, a bomb exploded in the car park of a hotel used by UN monitors, but several military buildings are also in the vicinity and it was not clear what the target was.