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'Barrel Bomb' Attack In Syria Leaves Scores Dead

Human rights activists say scores of Aleppo residents are dead after Syrian regime aircraft pounded the city with bombs.
Posted at 9:00 AM, Dec 16, 2013

​It’s some of the worst bloodshed the Syrian town of Aleppo has seen in months.

Human rights activists say this is aftermath of government air raids Sunday. One opposition group says at least 83 people died, including more than two dozen children when Syrian regime aircraft pounded the city with barrels packed with explosives. (Via Channel 4 / Aleppo Media Centre)

These barrels bombs can be filled with flammable material like napalm and dropped from the air, often with little regard for any specific target. (Via ITN)

In the past, the U.S. State Department has recognized their use by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops. But his government says this latest attack in Aleppo was the work of terrorists, not regime forces. (CBS)​ 

Aleppo, Syria’s biggest and wealthiest city, has been at the heart of this now two-and-a-half year conflict, and is used to this kind of violence. 

​The city is divided between rebels forces and the government. Last year, the opposition launched an offensive against Assad’s troops in the city and it appeared they were gaining ground. (Via BBC)

​But in recent weeks, the momentum has swung in the other direction — with forces loyal to Assad stepping up their attacks — producing somewhat of a stalemate in the struggle for this strategic city. (Via Shahba Press

"You do get, you know, areas that the rebel team conquers or reconquers, and then areas that the rebels take back. A stalemate doesn’t mean there’s no fighting." (Via BBC)

Syria analyst Andrew Tabler told Al Jazeera reports of these air raids show the government's determination to take back Aleppo. "The Assad regime has the troops to retake the area … The question is if they have enough troops to hold it."

And while that remains to be seen, it is clear the worsening violence has made neighborhoods and even schools the new frontline. 

As one Syrian activist put it: “Everyone is looking up at the skies and watching the planes. But there’s nothing to be done." (Via The Daily Star