Human Rights Watch says Syrian government using barrel bombs in defiance of UN resolution


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BEIRUT — The Syrian government is still indiscriminately bombing civilians with explosives-filled barrels in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution, an international human rights group said Wednesday.

The Human Rights Watch statement came as the Security Council was expected to meet for a fifth round of reporting on the resolution — and at least 11 people were killed by the bombs overnight.

February's resolution demanded a halt to all attacks against civilians and indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment — including the use of so-called barrel bombs — in populated areas. The crude weapons — barrels packed with explosives and scraps of metal that are pushed out of helicopters — cannot be precisely targeted. They have caused widespread civilian casualties as they hit homes, schools and open markets.

The New York-based group says it has documented over 650 strikes on rebel-held neighborhoods in the northern city of Aleppo since the resolution's adoption. It noted in the report that opposition fighters also carry out indiscriminate attacks, including mortar strikes and car bombings.

Barrel bombs on Aleppo have killed more than 2,000 people this year, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists inside the war-torn country.

Those killed included six people in the Aleppo neighborhood of Bab Neirab overnight, including an elderly man, three women and a child, the Observatory reported. Another barrel bomb hit the Aleppo neighborhood of Saliheen, killing five people, the Observatory said. A Syrian activist who uses the name Saleh also confirmed the strikes, but not the death tolls. Conflicting death tolls are routine after such strikes.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled Aleppo since the barrel bombings began in earnest in December.

"Month after month, the Security Council has sat idly by as the government defied its demands with new barrel bomb attacks on Syrian civilians," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Russia and China need to allow the Security Council to show the same resolve and unanimity it brought to the issue of humanitarian aid to call a halt to these deadly attacks on civilians."

Over 170,000 people have been killed in Syria in more than three years of fighting, activists say.


Associated Press writer Diaa Hadid contributed to this report.

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