US urges Syrian regime to end barrel bomb campaign

US urges Syrian regime to end barrel bomb campaign
During a TV interview, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that he spoke with his Russian counterparts about ending Syria's use of barrel bombs that have killed thousands.
3 min read
29 September, 2015
Markets - such as this one in Aleppo - have been frequent regime targets [Getty]

US Secratary of State said that he has asked Russia to out pressure on the Syrian regime to end its use of barrel bombs in civilian areas, according to Reuters news agency.

Speaking on MSNBC television channel, Kerry said he has pressed his Russian counterparts about Damascus stopping its use of barrel bombs, which have been frequently employed throughout the four-year war.

During the interview, Kerry said that the US might "exchange something" in return if the regime agreed to end the use of barrel bombs.

The agency also reported that the US and Russia - one of Bashar al-Assad's key backers - have agreed to some fundamental principles on Syria, although differences between the two world powers still remain.

"There was agreement that Syria should be a unified country, united, that it needs to be secular, that ISIL (Islamic State group) needs to be taken on, and that there needs to be a managed transition," Kerry said.

In July, the UN Human Rights Council issued a resolution condemning the use of barrel bombs by the regime.

The crude devices get their name from the oil barrels they are manufactured from.

They are then packed with explosives and pieces of shrapnel and dropped from helicoptors over residential areas.

The UN are currently meeting in New York and one of the key issues is Syria.

More than 250,000 people have died in the war, many from the effects of barrel bombs.

Millions more have been made homeless due to regime bombing and fighting. 

Yesterday, at least 23 civilians, including eight children, were killed in regime air raids on a market in a Islamic State group-held city in eastern Syria on Monday, a monitoring group said.

"Regime military aircraft fired at least two missiles at a souk (market) in Mayadeen, killing at least 23 civilians including eight children and five women," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He said 50 others were wounded in the raids on Mayadeen, located in Syria's oil-rich Deir Az-Zour province and held by the extremist group.

Markets have been frequent targets for regime bombing. In August, a marketplace in the Douma district of Damascus was bombed by regime aircraft leading to at least 110 dead.

On Sunday, the Observatory reported that IS had shut down playgrounds in Mayadeen "under the pretext that there was mixing between men and women bringing their children to play".

The ultra-radical organisation has imposed its extreme interpretation of Islam in areas under its control across swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Regime air strikes also killed four civilians in Kfarbatna, a town in the rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, the Observatory said.

Two more people died inside Damascus when opposition fighters fired shells onto a district inside the capital, Syria's official news agency SANA said.