Activists say Syrian army airstrikes kill at least 45 people in embattled Aleppo province

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BEIRUT — Syrian army airstrikes killed at least 45 people, most of them civilians, and wounded scores in attacks Saturday in the northern province of Aleppo that struck civilian areas, including a packed market in town held by the Islamic State group, activists said.

The deaths occurred in two separate incidents when helicopters dropped explosives-filled barrels. One barrel hit the rebel-held Shaar neighborhood of the city of Aleppo, killing at least 12 people, most of them from the same family. They included three children and four women, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The other attack hit a busy market known as Souk al-Hal in the Islamic State-held town of al-Bab in Aleppo's countryside. The Observatory reported a "massacre" in the market, saying at least 33 people were killed and dozens wounded. It said the number of dead likely would rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition.

The Local Coordination Committees reported 50 people killed and around 70 wounded in the al-Bab attack. Both groups document violence through a network of activists on the ground in Syria.

Al-Bab is controlled by the Islamic State group, which also confirmed the attack in a statement posted in Twitter. It said 50 people were killed in a "devastating massacre" committed by Syrian army helicopters.

Aleppo, once Syria's commercial hub, has been divided between government and opposition forces since mid-2012, and fighting there has raged since. Government warplanes have dropped explosives-filled barrels on rebel-held neighborhoods there, killing thousands while Syrian rebels have shelled residential areas in government-held parts of the contested city in the past, killing hundreds.

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