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Syria firing missiles into civilian areas, rights group says

August 05, 2013|By Raja Abdulrahim | This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
  • Residents dig through rubble in Aleppo, Syria, searching for survivors following an alleged missile attack by government forces.
Residents dig through rubble in Aleppo, Syria, searching for survivors… (Raja Abdulrahim / Los Angeles…)

ANTAKYA, Turkey -- The Syrian government has fired highly destructive ballistic missiles into populated civilian areas, killing many, including children, a human rights group reported Monday.

At least 215 people, 100 of them children, have been killed in nine apparent missile attacks from February to July, according to Human Rights Watch, which said its representatives visited seven of the sites.

The rights group said the repeated use of high-explosive weapons, including destructive Scud missiles, in populated areas indicated that the Syrian military was willfully using "methods of warfare incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants, a serious violation of international humanitarian law."

“In towns and cities in opposition controlled areas throughout northern Syria, civilians cannot escape the reach of these destructive weapons,” said Ole Solvang, the group’s senior emergencies researcher.

In two of the attacks, nearby rebel military sites were not struck by the missiles, the group reported, while in seven other attacks, there were no apparent military targets.

The group said the latest attack came less than two weeks ago in the Bab Al-Nairab neighborhood in Aleppo, killing at least 33 civilians, including 17 children.

On July 26 at dusk, just as families across the city were sitting down for iftaar, the meal to end the daylong Ramadan fast, a ballistic missile struck several homes, residents told representatives of the rights group.

Residents said the worked until the morning hours digging through the rubble to find survivors and pull out the bodies, the group reported.

About 10 homes were destroyed, and the explosion’s impact extended across two neighborhoods, the group said, and an entire nine-member family was killed.

[For The Record, 7:40 a.m. PDT Aug. 5: An earlier version of this post said Human Rights Watch had indicated that Syria was using "weapons incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants." The report accused the government of using "methods of warfare" incapable of drawing that distinction.]


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