16 Dec 2013

New agony in Aleppo: ‘Children killed in bombing attack’

At least 36 people, including children, have died after Syrian army helicopters dropped improvised “barrel bombs” on the northern city of Aleppo, opposition activists say.

Warning: footage on this page is of a graphic and extremely distressing nature. Videos posted on the internet appear to show the aftermath of Syrian government bombing in Aleppo, which killed more than 30 people according to local activists. Channel 4 News cannot independently verify the authenticity of these videos.

Video uploaded by local activists showed a fire in a narrow street covered in debris and dust after one air raid in the Karam el-Beik district.

Another showed blackened and twisted wreckage of a vehicle at a busy roundabout.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 15 of the casualties on Sunday were children.

Barrel bombs

Barrel bombs are explosive-filled cylinders or oil barrels, often rolled out of the back of helicopters with little attempt at striking a particular target but capable of causing widespread casualties and significant damage.

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, battling rebels in a 2-1/2 year conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people have been unable to recapture eastern and central parts of Aleppo, which rebels stormed in the summer of 2012, but they have driven rebel fighters back from towns to the southeast of the city in recent weeks.

Agony in Aleppo as 'children killed in new bombing attack' (R)

Backed by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas and Iraqi Shi’ite fighters, they have also consolidated president Assad’s control over the capital Damascus and the main highway north to the central city of Homs, despite counter attacks by the Sunni rebels, who include many foreign jihadi fighters.

The observatory also said on Sunday the death toll from a sectarian attack by Islamist rebels on Wednesday in the town of Adra, northeast of Damascus, had risen to 28.

It said the dead included Alawites – the same minority sect which Assad belongs to – Druze and Shi’ite Muslims.

UN aid

Meanwhile the United Nations on Sunday sent its first delivery of humanitarian aid by air to Syria from Iraq and said it plans to deliver more food and winter supplies to the mainly Kurdish northeast in the next 12 days.

The first cargo plane carrying food took off from Arbil in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region heading to Hassakeh in Syria.

The food supplies over the next 12 days should be able to feed more than 6,000 Syrian families for the rest of December, the UN’s World Food Programme said.

This is the third winter since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.