Syrian rebels shell city of Aleppo, killing at least 13
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Syrian rebels fired mortar rounds into government-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo during rush hour Monday, killing 13 people and wounding dozens, state-run TV and an activist group said.
The violence was the latest in the flare-up in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and once its commercial hub. Last month, Syrian troops and pro-government militias launched an offensive in an attempt to besiege rebel-held parts of the city and since then, intense fighting has been taking place on the city’s outskirts.
On Monday, state TV aired footage from Aleppo showing the wounded and the dead as they were being brought to a hospital in the city. It said the shelling killed 13 and wounded as many as 30, some of whom suffered serious injuries.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that has a network on the ground, gave a similar casualty toll.
Aleppo has been carved into government- and opposition-held sectors since mid-2012. It is not uncommon for rebels to shell government-held parts of Aleppo but Monday’s shelling was one of the deadliest in months.
State television said the shells struck Baron Street, falling near a school as students were leaving after class. The footage shows a woman crying over a body covered with a blue sheet on the hospital floor, and a wounded boy being carried into the hospital.
The report said authorities closed off some roads to clear the way to hospitals and urged residents to donate blood.
The attack coincided with the release of a new report by Human Rights Watch documenting what it says were indiscriminate attacks by armed opposition groups against civilians in government-controlled areas. The New York-based group called on all parties in the conflict to end such attacks.
“We’ve seen a race to the bottom in Syria with rebel groups mimicking the ruthlessness of government forces with devastating consequences for civilians,” said HRW’s Nadim Houry. “Civilians are paying the price, be it in government or rebel-held areas, with an inadequate international response.”
Also Monday, government warplanes bombed the area near Jabal al-Zawiya in Idlib province, where an army helicopter crashed the previous day and where its five crew members were captured by rebels, activists said. The rebels later shot dead one of the crew, according to videos posted online.
The Observatory said nine air raids were conducted Monday in the area. The Local Coordination Committees also reported several airstrikes but it was not immediately clear if there were casualties.
Syrian state TV said troops targeted “terrorist gangs” – the term the government uses for rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad – and killed and wounded many of them.
Syria’s crisis, now in its fifth year, has killed more than 220,000 people.