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More than 500 dead in 'record' Syria air raids: monitor

BEYROUTH: More than 500 civilians have been killed in a “world record” 2,000 air strikes across Syria by regime forces over the past 40 days, a monitoring group said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the regime could be “listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for… carrying out some 2,000 air strikes against its people in the past 40 days”.

The group, which relies on a broad network of activists and medics on the ground for its information, said the raids have killed at least 527 civilians and wounded 2,000 others.

On Wednesday alone, raids on the Islamic State jihadist group’s self-declared “capital” of Raqa killed 95 people, “the vast majority civilians”, the Britain-based Observatory’s head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The Syrian air force first launched air strikes against rebel-held areas in July 2012 when the government lost control of swathes of Aleppo city.

It has since pounded areas across the country on a daily basis, often with crude “barrel bombs” dropped from helicopters.

“In the past 40 days alone, there have been strikes against parts of 12 of Syria’s 14 provinces,” said Abdel Rahman.

“Millions of people have fled their homes because of the strikes, becoming internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries,” he said.

Syria’s air force currently has 275 warplanes, having lost 87 aircraft last year, some shot down by rebels, according to the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

The United Nations and rights groups have repeatedly urged all sides in Syria’s war to refrain from using weapons that fail to discriminate between military and civilian targets. – AFP

 

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