BEIRUT (AP) – Syrian government airstrikes killed some 50 people in an opposition-held city this week in bombing that apparently sought to target a rebel commander, activists said Wednesday.
The death toll was unusually high, even by the vicious standards of the country’s civil war, now in its fourth year. The killed included a mother and her five children, crushed under the rubble, a rebel commander and several fighters in the central city of Talbiseh, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The group, which obtains its information from a network of activists on the ground, said it counted 48 killed in two days of strikes on Monday and Tuesday.
Similar information was reported by a local Talbiseh activist collective.
Both groups said the death toll was likely to exceed 50 as residents were still pulling out bodies from the rubble.
A boy crouches in a building hit by what activists said was an air strike carried out by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad on Tal Al Zarazir district in southern Aleppo city, September 17 – REUTERS
“Residents woke up from the massacre yesterday only to witness another terrifying massacre,” said the local collective in a Facebook update, describing Talbiseh as a “destroyed” city “filled with civilians and displaced who cannot find bread to eat, chased by the shelling of regime forces”.
Videos uploaded of the aftermath showed a man weeping as he clutched his lifeless baby boy, and residents praying over the shroud-wrapped bodies of a mother and her five children. The videos appeared genuine and corresponded to The Associated Press’ reporting of the event.
State-run media said Tuesday that the army targeted a meeting of “terrorists”, the term they use to refer to armed rebels. The Observatory said that leading members of a rebel group were killed, but didn’t identify which one.