May 30, 2014 7:50 am

Bombs dropped on Syrian city killed nearly 2,000 this year: activists

This image made from amateur video posted by Shaam News Network (SNN), an anti-Bashar Assad activist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows an explosion that destroyed the Carlton Hotel in Aleppo, Syria, Thursday, May 8, 2014.

AP Photo/Shaam News Network

BEIRUT – Crude bombs dropped by Syrian government forces on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo have killed nearly 2,000 people so far this year, an activist group said Friday.

The grim figure is the latest addition to the deadly tally from Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 162,000 people, according to activists. The crude bombs – known as barrel bombs – are shrapnel-packed explosive devices that Syrian forces have been rolling out of helicopters over rebel-held neighbourhoods.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – one of the main groups counting the dead in the three-year-long conflict – said Friday there were 1,963 deaths in 2014 from barrel bombs in Aleppo, including 283 women and 567 people under the age of 18.

According to the Observatory, 14 people are dying on average every day in Aleppo because of the barrel bombs. The containers, or barrels, are usually packed with hundreds of kilograms (pounds) of explosives as well as scraps of metal and are intended to cause massive damage on impact.

A U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in February demanded, among other things, a halt to all attacks on civilians in Syria and indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment, including the use of barrel bombs in populated areas.

In March, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said it used satellite imagery to identify at least 340 places in rebel-controlled areas of Aleppo that were damaged between early November and Feb. 20. The majority of the sites bore signatures of damage consistent with barrel bombs, it said.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and once its commercial centre, has been carved into rebel- and government-controlled areas since opposition fighters launched an offensive there in mid-2012.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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