Syria barrel bombs kill 85 in AleppoAgence France-Presse . Damascus
At least 85 people were killed in 24 hours of Syrian regime air raids on the city of Aleppo, a monitoring group said Sunday, after 10 days of inconclusive peace talks.
The deaths came as a suicide car bombing in a Hezbollah stronghold across the border in Lebanon killed four people on Saturday, in the latest regional spillover of the conflict.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime helicopters hit rebel-held areas of Aleppo with barrels packed with explosives.
The so-called barrel bombs are a controversial weapon, condemned by rights groups as indiscriminate.
‘At least 85 people were killed, including 65 civilians, 10 of whom were children,’ on Saturday, the Observatory said.
Attacks targeted several areas of the city, with 34 killed in the southeastern Tariq al-Bab area alone, among them six children.
Another 22 civilians, including another six children, were killed in the Salhine, Ansari and Marjeh districts, with nine others killed in other parts of the city.
The Britain-based Observatory said 10 jihadists from Al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, were also killed in a local headquarters in the city.
Ten other deaths in the attacks were recorded but the identities of the dead had not been confirmed.
Once Syria’s economic hub, Aleppo is now divided between regime and rebel-held areas, with large swathes of the city devastated by the fighting that began there in mid-2012.
In December, government aircraft launched a sustained blitz on the city that killed hundreds of people, most of them civilians.
Regime forces recently launched an offensive on rebel-held areas in the east of the city, with defence minister General Fahd al-Freij visiting the province on Friday.
The latest aerial assault came the day after Syrian government and opposition delegations wrapped up peace talks in Geneva.
The 10 days of talks yielded no tangible results and the government team said it was unsure whether it would return to the negotiating table.
On Sunday, SANA carried scathing remarks from deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Moqdad, who accused the opposition of being ‘mercenaries manipulated by foreign forces.’
He said they bore ‘full responsibility for the lack of results at Geneva because of their refusal to engage on the basis of principles that no Syrian could refuse: the unity of Syria, its independence and its sovereignty.’
Syria’s UN ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari, was equally critical of the opposition, accusing them of having ‘no vision or political programme,’ SANA said.
Al-Watan added, however, that the conflict has ‘transferred to the political and diplomatic field, which is one that the Syrians know well.’
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