Fighting raged today in Syria, with activists saying that as many as 90 people were killed in Aleppo by the Syrian military. The British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that attack helicopters dropped barrel bombs on the city on at least 17 different instances. The powerful barrel bombs are oil drums that are filled with explosive and shrapnel. At least ten members of the Islamist rebel faction, Nusra Front, were reported killed. The use of barrel bombs has been criticized as indiscriminately targeting civilians; however, they have become increasingly common in Syria’s Civil War.
It is believed that such bombs have killed over 700 people throughout Syria in the last six weeks alone. Some Western nations have proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution to prohibit their use, but were vetoed by Russia, a significant supporter of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Aleppo is largely controlled by rebel factions and is frequently a target of Syrian airstrikes. Amateur videos have surfaced online showing the gruesome destruction caused by this type of weapon.
The fighting that claimed the lives of as many of 90 people today continued after peace talks in Geneva ended on Friday. No progress seemed to have been made in ending the civil war that has killed of over 100,000 people and displaced roughly a third of the population. The meetings failed to produce any solutions to end the desperate humanitarian crisis, including being unable to agree upon a way in which to lift the food, water, and medicine blockades being enforced around rebel strongholds. It is estimated that 300,000 people within the country are being cut off from aid.
The opposition has been weakened as of late due to infighting among various factions. The Free Syrian Army, which is backed by Western nations, is reported to have been under attack by Islamist groups, most notably by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levent (ISIL). Such groups have been significantly strengthened by the chaos Syria’s civil war has created for the region. ISIL is considered to be one of the most effective fighting forces battling with Assad’s forces, as many of its fighters have experience and are well trained. Fighters often cross the border between Iraq and Syria and hope to establish an Islamic state between the two countries. This complicates humanitarian issues even further because these Islamic groups are competing for influence with more moderate opposition groups, making it harder to negotiate with the Assad government.
As many as 90 people were killed today in the Syrian city of Aleppo and it can unfortunately be expected that this trend will continue. The civil war causes around 100 deaths per day, many of these being innocent civilians. Political negotiations seemed to have stalled following the conclusion of the Geneva meetings and it seems that fighting will rage on. The United Nations continues to press for a end to the conflict, but differences in opinion between countries such as the U.S. and Russia are further adding to the complications. The U.S. insists that Assad must step down in order to make a transition to peace. The Syrian leader maintains that he will not do this, as his country is being attacked by “terrorists.”
By Peter Grazul