BEIRUT, Lebanon — Fighting in Aleppo, Syria, killed dozens of civilians over the weekend, a high toll even for a city that has been the scene of intense fighting recently, a monitoring group said on Sunday.
Government and Russian airstrikes and artillery bombardment of opposition neighborhoods and the outskirts of the city on Saturday killed 46 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, and another nine were killed by opposition shelling in government-held areas of western Aleppo.
Another 20 people were killed in rural villages in nearby Idlib Province after 26 airstrikes on Saturday, the group said. Activists and journalists in Idlib also confirmed the airstrikes.
The fighting has intensified in Aleppo after the rebels managed a week ago to break a government siege of their positions in the city, Syria’s largest, which has been divided between government and opposition forces for four years. The siege had set off a humanitarian crisis there.
Over the past two weeks, the civilian death toll in Aleppo Province has risen to at least 327, a third of the victims women and children, according to the observatory’s figures. Of those, 233 civilians were killed in the city of Aleppo, 102 in opposition areas and 126 in government areas. The observatory did not clarify where the other five civilians had died.
While most of the opposition victims died in aerial bombardments, those on the government side were killed by shelling.
In both cases, women and children made up a large number of the victims: 40 children and 18 women killed in government areas, and 18 children and nine women in opposition areas, according to the observatory’s figures.
Activists using social media reported that barrel bombs were dropped from government helicopters over Aleppo. In Daraya, on the outskirts of Damascus, activists said warplanes were dropping a napalm-like substance that ignited fires that were hard to extinguish. The activists said it was unclear whether the warplanes were Russian or belonged to the Syrian government.
Also in Aleppo Province, a suicide bomber on Sunday killed at least 36 rebels and a Turkish officer on a bus crossing into Syria from Turkey, according to witnesses and news accounts. Many of the fighters had been trained at a United States-backed military operations center in Jordan.
Hwaida Saad reported from Beirut, Lebanon, and Rod Nordland from Minya, Egypt. Maher Samaan contributed reporting from Paris.
(via NY Times)