- Medical and Health
- Special Report
- RSS Feed
Beirut: The Syrian military unleashed heavy airstrikes and artillery bombardments targeting rebel strongholds in the north today, killing at least 90 people according to activists.
The barrage came as the UN food agency warned that more and more Syrians are depending on assistance from the World Food Program to stay alive with the civil war worsening.
The airstrikes hit northern Idlib and Aleppo provinces, both bordering Turkey. Activists described them as some of the worst since rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad took over the key city of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib on October 10. The city lies along the main highway connecting Aleppo with the cities to the south, including Homs and the capital Damascus.
Assad's regime has increasingly relied on warplanes in its struggle to crush rebels who have taken over large swathes of territory in the north.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the airstrikes were "concentrated and intensive" and the worst in weeks. He said warplanes carried out 12 raids in the area of Maaret al-Numan in one hour. The group relies on a network of activists on the ground.
Abdul-Rahman said at least 90 people were killed in airstrikes and artillery shelling. He said it is often difficult to determine "what hit a town or a village" in the immediate aftermath of a strike. The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, put the death toll from airstrikes and artillery strikes at 96.
In addition to the air bombardment, Human Rights Watch on Sunday cited allegations that Assad's government has been using cluster bombs --- which are banned by most nations. The US based group cited amateur video and testimony from the front lines. The Syrian military denied the reports, saying in a statement late Monday that the allegations were "baseless and are part of media propaganda that aims to divert international public opinion from crimes committed by armed terrorist groups."
Syrian authorities blame the civil war in the country on armed gangs and terrorists carrying out a foreign conspiracy to destabilize the country.
Fighting also continued in Aleppo, Syria's largest city with 3 million residents and its former business capital. Activists reported airstrikes in the town of al-Bab in Aleppo province.