Syria Conflict: 53 Killed in air strike in Aleppo

Exclusive to The Middle East Online

Edited by Nelly Tawil

According to activists, at least 53 people, including children, have perished in the most recent government air strikes in Syria’s Aleppo.

On Sunday, an unidentified war plane had crashed in countryside south of Aleppo in an area where Islamist rebel fighters are battling the Syrian army and Iranian-backed forces, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group.

It had no information on what caused the crash.

32 were killed in the rebel-held parts of the city during the air strikes, with 18 bodies pulled from flattened buildings in the Qatriji neighborhood, the worst hit, said a civil defense worker.

Military helicopters dropped dozens of barrel bombs –oil drums or cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel – on the heavily populated al-Qatriji neighborhood, the UK-based monitoring group said on Sunday.

“This week long campaign of bombing is very intense and day by day it’s getting worse…it is the worst we have seen in a while,” said Bebars Mishal, a civil defense official in rebel-held Aleppo.

Syrian media claim there is an escalation of motar attacks on the western districts from rebels in their attempts to fight back against government-held areas in Aleppo.

State media said attacks on Sunday on Hamadaniyah, Midan and other neighbourhoods by insurgents killed at least 20 people, in the second day of intense shelling of government-held areas.

The death toll over the whole weekend was at least 44.

Aleppo, the country’s largest city before the war, has been divided for years between rebel and government-held zones.

Full control of Aleppo would be a huge prize for President Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s military intervention since September has helped to bolster Assad’s government.