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US condemns 'barbarity' of Syria's barrel bombs

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-05

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday condemned the "brutality" of the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad for its sustained barrel bomb campaign, which has already killed more than 150 people in Aleppo.

"Each and every day that the barrel-bombing of Aleppo continues, the Assad regime reminds the world of its true colors," Kerry wrote in a statement.

"It is the latest barbaric act of a regime that has committed organized, wholesale torture, used chemical weapons, and is starving whole communities by blocking delivery of food to Syrian civilians in urgent need."

More than 150 people have been killed in Aleppo, Syria's onetime economic hub and second city, over the past four days, in a string of barrel bomb raids and other air strikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least eight people, including five children, were the latest victims killed Tuesday when Syrian army helicopters unleashed a new wave of the bombs which Kerry said were "filled with metal shrapnel and fuel."

Barrel bombs, cheap and easy to construct and usually dropped from helicopters, often kill dozens at a time.

‘A horrific legacy,’ says Kerry

The bombs that fell Tuesday hit a mosque, which the Aleppo media center said was being used as a school. Syria’s civil war has killed more than 130,000 people and forced over 6 million from their homes.

"Given this horrific legacy, the Syrian people would never accept as legitimate a government including Assad," Kerry said, referring to peace talks due to resume in Geneva next week aimed at installing a transitional government in the war-torn country.

"While the opposition and the international community are focused on ending the war... the regime is single-mindedly focused on inflicting further destruction to strengthen its hand on the battlefield and undermining hopes for the success of the Geneva II process," Kerry said.

Fighting continues in Aleppo

Activists say that barrel bombs are being used to push people from rebel-held areas into state-controlled parts of the city.

“In recent days the flight of civilians has intensified and the regime has made some small gains,” said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group. “The main aid to their advance has been the rebel infighting.”

Other opposition sources deny government advances. Media access in Syria is severely limited by violence and government restrictions, making conflicting accounts difficult to verify. Aleppo has been divided since the rebels captured large swathes of the city in an offensive in the summer of 2012.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

 

Date created : 2014-02-05

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