Opposition activists are claiming more than 500 people have died in weeks of Syrian government air strikes on the city of Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the dead includes 151 children. Syrian government helicopters have been hitting Aleppo with highly destructive barrel bombs –- oil drums filled with explosives and sometimes with nails or scrap metal. At least 25 people were reportedly killed on Saturday when government forces bombed a vegetable market. Meanwhile the Assad regime has evacuated thousands of residents from the town of Adra amidst heavy clashes with rebel fighters.
In Syria, at least 42 people were reportedly killed on Sunday as Syrian army helicopters continued to bombard Aleppo. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least six children were among the dead. The helicopters have been dropping highly destructive barrel bombs –- oil drums filled with explosives and sometimes with nails or scrap metal. The strikes have killed hundreds of people over the past month.
We’re staying very hopeful. We’re hearing many rumors but no facts at this point. We’ve just a very strong feeling that Jim is alive.
Turkey says it shot down a Syrian military helicopter that strayed about a mile into its airspace Monday, marking an increase in tensions between the two countries. According to Turkey, the helicopter’s crew failed to heed warnings to turn back.
The findings are beyond doubt and beyond the pale. This is a war crime and grave violation of the 1925 protocol and other rules of international law, customary international law. It is the most significant, confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them in Halabja in 1988, and the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century
A new report by Human Rights Watch says Syrian government and pro-government forces killed roughly 250 people during one of the conflict’s worst mass executions in the towns of al-Bayda and Baniyas in May. Another report by United Nations investigators says Syrian government forces are systemically attacking hospitals and denying treatment to sick people from areas linked to the opposition. The United Nations has previously accused both sides in the Syrian conflict of war crimes.
In some of the latest violence from Syria today, local activists say Assad regime warplanes have bombed one of the main field hospitals in the rebel-held north. According to the Aleppo Media Center, 11 civilians, including two doctors, were killed in the town of al-Bab. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights meanwhile reports that 22 civilians belonging to the minority Alawite sect have been killed in a massacre by the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front near the city of Homs.
The talks in Geneva come amidst news the CIA has begun delivering weapons to Syrian rebels. In what the Washington Post calls “a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war,” light weapons and other munitions began arriving two weeks ago through Turkey and Jordan after several months of delay. The weapons had apparently been stalled over concerns they would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda linked rebels, but those concerns appear to have abated since President Obama threatened to use force in response to last month’s chemical attack in Ghouta. The current shipments are going to the Supreme Military Council, a rebel force under the command of General Salim Idriss. The State Department has also shipped non-lethal assistance to the rebels including vehicles and communications gear.
In other Syria news, the United Nations has announced the number of children forced to flee Syria has now reached one million. Another two million children have been internally displaced.
There is no military solution to Syria. There is only a political solution, and that will require leadership in order to bring people to the table. Yesterday I had a conversation with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia. We remain committed to the effort to bring the parties to a Geneva 2 to implement Geneva 1, and we will try our hardest to make that happen as soon as it’s possible.
The United Nations has increased its count of the death toll in Syria’s more than two-year civil war to more than 100,000. The figure is up from the 93,000 deaths announced last month.