Syria air raids target Aleppo Kurds

Filed on April 6, 2013

Syrian warplanes Saturday raided a flashpoint majority Kurdish district in the northern city of Aleppo, a watchdog said, while air strikes were also reported on the outskirts of Damascus.

“A warplane raided the west of Sheikh Maqsud in Aleppo city, killing at least five civilians and wounding several others,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as violence in the politically sensitive neighbourhood escalated.

The strike comes days into fierce clashes pitting Kurdish fighters against troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and the arrival of Syrian rebels in the neighbourhood, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

The area targeted by the air strike is under control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Syria’s branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdel Rahman told AFP.

“We can see a clear drive by the army to attack the Kurds in recent days. The PYD is being dragged by the army into Syria’s conflict,” he said.

Up until now, Syria’s Kurds have been split over Syria’s bloody revolt, with most trying to maintain neutrality.

Amateur video shot in the neighbourhood and distributed by the Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots network of activists, showed burnt bodies lying in rubble.

The footage was reportedly filmed in the strike’s aftermath.

Elsewhere, the air force targeted Al-Hajar al-Aswad in southern Damascus and Qadam in the southwest, said the Britain-based watchdog, which relies on a broad network of doctors, lawyers and activists for its reports.

Al-Hajar al-Aswad was also struck by mortar rounds and rockets, activists in the capital said.

Warplanes also raided Yabrud near Damascus and Qusayr in the central province of Homs, as regime tanks shelled rebel enclaves in Homs city.

In Damascus, mortar rounds hit Baramkeh in the heart of the city, said the Observatory, as rebels pressed their campaign to break into the regime’s key bastion.

Saturday’s violence comes a day after at least 94 people were killed across the country — 32 civilians, 36 rebels fighters and 26 soldiers — according to an Observatory count.

The UN says more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war, which broke out after the army unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent, turning a peaceful uprising into a bloody insurgency.

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