Regime missiles kill 18 civilians in Syria's Aleppo

Regime missiles kill 18 civilians in Syria's Aleppo
Missiles fired by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have killed a number of people in a residential district of the northern city of Aleppo on Monday.
3 min read
21 September, 2015
Regime forces fired on the al-Shaar neighbourhood in Aleppo city's east [Getty]

Heavy bombardment by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad killed at least 18 civilians Monday in a residential district of the northern city of Aleppo, a monitor said.

"Regime forces fired on the al-Shaar neighbourhood in Aleppo city's east, which is controlled by the opposition, and killed at least 18 civilians," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"A surface-to-surface missile hit the al-Shaar neighbourhood. People started gathering, and that's when the army fired more missiles at the same area," he said.

Abdel Rahman said dozens of people were wounded and others were still trapped under the rubble.

Aleppo was once Syria's economic powerhouse, but it has been devastated by fighting since 2012.

The city is now divided between government control in the west and opposition control in the east.

Much of Aleppo has been left in ruins as regime forces carry out aerial attacks and rebels retaliate, despite criticism of both sides from humanitarian organisations.


Meanwhile, a new ceasefire went into effect on Sunday between pro-government forces and Islamist rebels in three battleground districts, a local official and the Observatory said.

The truce covers the two remaining villages in Idlib province in the northwest still in government hands and the rebels' last stronghold near the Lebanese border, the town of Zabadani.

"The truce in Zabadani, Fuaa and Kafraya which began at noon (0900 GMT) has held except for some sporadic fire on Fuaa in the afternoon," said Abdel Rahman.

Sunday's ceasefire is the third attempt to halt fighting in the three areas. A ceasefire last month lasted only 48 hours.

US trained fighters

In other developments, 75 Syrian rebels trained to fight Islamic extremists under a beleaguered US programme have crossed into northern Syria from Turkey.

"Seventy-five new fighters trained in a camp near the Turkish capital entered Aleppo province between Friday night and Saturday morning," Abdel Rahman confirmed.

Hassan Mustafa, spokesman for the Division 30 unit to which some of the rebels were deployed, confirmed to AFP that the group had entered Syria.

"Their training in Turkey lasted two months and they went directly to the front lines with Daesh [the Islamic State group]. They are now in the town of Tal Rifaat," Mustafa said.

According to Abdel Rahman, the group entered in a convoy of a dozen cars with light weapons and ammunition, under air cover from the US-led coalition.

Before the fresh batch of fighters, the US-led train-and-equip programme had only managed to vet and train some 60 rebels to fight IS militants on the ground.

The $500 million programme run out of Turkey has been fraught with problems.

Shortly after the 54 fighters embedded with Division 30 in July, they suffered a devastating assault by al-Nusra Front.

More than a dozen of Division 30's fighters were either killed or kidnapped by al-Nusra, which accused them of being "agents of American interests".

The United States has since used its air power to help Division 30 push back other al-Nusra attacks and has said Syrian troops could be targeted if they attacked the US-backed forces.

US officials have also expressed fears Russia may strike the Western-backed rebels fighting Assad and ultimately risk a confrontation with forces fighting IS.