Army rockets kill at least 20 in Aleppo

Army rockets kill at least 20 in Aleppo

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Tue, 19/02/2013 - 17:08

A Syrian army rocket attack on a rebel-held district in the city of Aleppo killed at least 20 people and another 25 were missing, opposition activists said on Tuesday.

The missile was identified from its remains as a Scud-type rocket that government forces have increasingly used in areas under opposition control in the provinces of Aleppo and Deir a-Zor to the east, they said.

"The rocket brought down three adjacent buildings in Jabal Badro district. The bodies are being dug up gradually. Some, including children, have died in hospitals," Mohammad Nour said by phone from Aleppo. He said testimony from survivors indicated that 25 people were still under the rubble.

Video footage showed dozens of people scouring the site for missing victims and inspecting the damage. A body was being pulled from under a collapsed concrete structure. At a nearby hospital, a baby said to have been dug out from under the wreckage was shown dying in the hands of doctors.

Abdeljabbar al-Akeidi, head of the rebel Aleppo Military Council in Syria's largest city and erstwhile commercial hub, was shown in video footage inspecting the scene.

Syrian opposition fighters have captured several army bases in Aleppo in the last two months, depriving the army of secure sites from which troops have been firing artillery at rebel-held districts of the city and surrounding rural areas.

Rocket salvoes over the last week have hit the towns of Tel Rifaat and Dar Izza in rural Aleppo, as well the eastern towns of Albu Kamal and Mou Hassan near the border with Iraq.

Abu Mujahed of the Sham News Network opposition group in Aleppo said that although rebels were present in Jabal Badro, the area on the city's eastern edge had little strategic value.

"Jabal Badro has been with the opposition for months and life was normal in the district. Shops were open and people were going to work," Abu Mujahed said. "Using a devastating weapon like a Scud aims to stir anger against the (rebel) Free Syrian Army and undermine its base of popular support."

Syria has been convulsed by an uprising and civil war for almost two years, with an estimated 70,000 people killed, and UN investigators say war crimes, including deliberate attacks on civilians, have been committed by both sides.