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Fresh Helicopter Bomb Raids By Syrian Government Kill 42 Civilians

Syrian regime helicopters bombarded residential areas of the divided city of Aleppo with crude explosive-filled barrels, killing 42 people in a tactic widely condemned as unlawful.

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According to a British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syrian forces are “wreaking disaster” on Aleppo, killing dozens in air strikes on the city

At least 42 people, including children, were killed on Sunday when Syrian army helicopters dropped improvised "barrel bombs" in the northern province of Aleppo.

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Smoke rises from a vehicle after what activists said was heavy shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, in Masaken Hanano in Aleppo, December 22, 2013.

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The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said separate air raids hit several districts in Aleppo, but the biggest toll was in Hanano, east of the city.

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A man carrying bread walks past covered dead bodies lying on the ground after what activists said was an air raid by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, at Masaken Hanano in Aleppo

At least six children were among the dead

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"They hit a convoy of cars on a road in Hanano, many cars were destroyed. There were civilians there," said the Observatory's Rami Abdelrahman.

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Human Rights Watch said in a report over the weekend that barrel bomb attacks had killed scores of civilians in Aleppo in the last month

It described the attacks as illegal and said they had hit residential and shopping areas.

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Human Rights Watch said in a report over the weekend that barrel bomb attacks had killed scores of civilians in Aleppo in the last month. It described the attacks as illegal and said they had hit residential and shopping areas

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“Government forces have really been wreaking disaster on Aleppo in the last month, killing men, women, and children alike,” said Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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“The Syrian air force is either criminally incompetent, doesn’t care whether it kills scores of civilians — or deliberately targets civilian areas,” Solvang added.

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The stakes are high in the battle for Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a former commercial and industrial hub

For the government, wresting back control of the entire city would deal a devastating blow to the rebels' morale and throw doubt on the opposition's long-term hold on the vast territory in northern Syria that it has captured over the past two years.

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Since it began on Sunday, the government air assault has hammered more than a dozen neighborhoods in the rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

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Barrel bombs are explosive-filled cylinders or oil drums that are often rolled out of the back of helicopters with little attempt at striking a particular target

They are capable of causing widespread casualties and significant damage.

freemalaysiatoday.com

President Bashar al-Assad's forces, battling rebels in a 2 1/2-year conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people, frequently deploy air power and artillery against rebel-held districts across the country.

reuters.com

They have been unable to recapture eastern and central parts of Aleppo, which rebels seized in the summer of 2012, but they have driven rebel fighters back from towns to the southeast of the city in recent weeks.

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