Regime aircraft pound Aleppo

Syrian government helicopters and warplanes unleashed a wave of airstrikes on more than a dozen opposition-held neighbourhoods in the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday, firing missiles and dropping crude barrel bombs in a ferocious attack that killed at least 36 people, including 17 children, activists said.

BEIRUT — Syrian government helicopters and warplanes unleashed a wave of airstrikes on more than a dozen opposition-held neighbourhoods in the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday, firing missiles and dropping crude barrel bombs in a ferocious attack that killed at least 36 people, including 17 children, activists said.

Aleppo has been a key battleground in Syria’s civil war since rebels swept into the city in mid-2012 and wrested most of the eastern and southern neighbourhoods from the government. Since then, the fighting has settled into a bloody grind, with neither side capable of mounting an offensive that would expel its opponents from the city.

But over the past two months, President Bashar Assad’s air force has ramped up its aerial campaign on rebel-held areas of Aleppo, pounding them with barrel bombs — containers packed with explosives, fuel and scraps of metal — that cause massive damage on impact.

On Sunday alone, Syrian military aircraft targeted 15 opposition-controlled neighbourhoods, said an activist who goes by the name of Abu al-Hassan Marea.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the Tariq al-Bab district on the eastern edge of the city was the hardest-hit, with at least eight barrel bombs raining down on it Sunday. Marea said one of the air raids in the neighbourhood struck a vegetable market and another landed near a mosque.

The Aleppo Media Center activist group said the strike near the Abdullah bin Masoud Mosque killed more than 10 people.

The Observatory put the day’s death toll in the air raids at 36, including 17 children. Marea said that more than 50 people were killed in the airstrikes, although he did not have an exact count.

An amateur video posted online showed a helicopter circling in the blue sky, and then a barrel plummeting from the aircraft until it slams into buildings on the horizon, sending a pillar of smoke and dust into the air. The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other Associated Press reporting of the events depicted.

This is not the first time that Assad’s air force has waged an intense campaign over Aleppo. In December, military helicopters pounded rebel-held districts of the city with barrel bombs, levelling buildings, burying people under the rubble and killing more than 500 people over a two-week stretch.

The misery in Aleppo was then compounded in early January by an outburst of rebel-on-rebel fighting, which has weakened the opposition’s grip on parts of the city.

Over the past two weeks, Assad’s forces have slowly chipped away at the rebels’ hold on neighbourhoods in southeastern Aleppo. While the advances have been small, they still mark the most significant government gains in the divided city since opposition fighters seized the areas in mid-2012.

As intense as the airstrikes have been, the rebels’ position in the city and across northern Syria has been undermined to a greater degree by the bloody bout of infighting that pits the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant against an array of ultraconservative brigades and more moderate factions.

The rebel clashes have killed more than 1,400 people since they began a month ago, and the fighting shows little sign of coming to an immediate close.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People board and leave at the Century Park light-rail transit station in Edmonton on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Growing number of attacks against Black Muslim women

‘Racism is a real problem:’ Growing number of attacks against Black Muslim women

Alberta Health Services declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Revera Aspen Ridge on Feb. 1. (Photo by Advocate staff)
Two COVID deaths linked to Revera seniors residence in Red Deer

35 active COVID cases at seniors residence

Red Deer musician Lorry Boschman has written a song about love in the time of COVID-19. Proceeds from his single, Romance during a Pandemic, will be donated to the local United Way. (Contributed photo).
Local musician records a song about love in the time of COVID-19 — for charity

Lorry Boschman will donate some proceeds to the United Way

Preliminary data shows Alberta’s suicide rate declined in 2020 — but some mental health critics say it’s too early to draw any conclusions since more dire pandemic impacts are only now being felt. (metrocreative stock)
Alberta’s suicide rate seems to have declined in 2020

But some experts say it’s too early to credit the pandemic

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird, right, and Jordin Canada pose for photos Wednesday, March 3, 2021, on the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle after they raised a flag with the team's new logo on it. Bird re-signed with the Storm earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Lille players celebrate after Jonathan David scored his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Marseille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

Canada defender Shelina Zadorsky, right, passes the ball in front of Argentina forward Sole Jaimes (9) during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Alphonso Davies and Shelina Zadorsky have been named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack
Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Manchester United's Fred, left, and Crystal Palace's Jordan Ayew challenge for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United at Selhurst Park stadium in London, England, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Mike Hewitt/Pool via AP)
Grueling season starting to catch up with Man U, Leicester

Grueling season starting to catch up with Man U, Leicester

Gary Sanchez goes deep, Yankees hit three home runs to beat Blue Jays 4-1

Gary Sanchez goes deep, Yankees hit three home runs to beat Blue Jays 4-1

Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell (24) dunks as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The undermanned Toronto Raptors, down five players and six members of their coaching staff due to health and safety protocols, are scheduled to host the Detroit Pistons in their first action since last Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carlos Osorio
Powell, Lowry do their bit but undermanned Raptors beaten handily by the Pistons

Powell, Lowry do their bit but undermanned Raptors beaten handily by the Pistons

Canada's Ghislaine Landry, left, runs past France players during the Women's Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, Friday, July 20, 2018. The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, grounded last year by the pandemic, will return for the women in May. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Chiu
World Rugby unveils condensed 2021 sevens schedule with Vancouver a question-mark

World Rugby unveils condensed 2021 sevens schedule with Vancouver a question-mark

Most Read