BEIRUT: Nine children were among at least 15 people killed in an air strike on a majority Kurdish district in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Saturday, a watchdog said.
“The number of people killed in an air strike on the western edges of Sheikh Maksoud has risen to 15. Among them were nine children aged under 18 years and three women,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Kurdish sources from the neighbourhood have told the Observatory the number of fatalities may rise, as several people have suffered critical injuries,” added the Britain-based watchdog.
It is unclear whether any of the casualties were fighters from the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Syria’s branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Observatory said.
Reports of the strike come days into fierce fighting pitting Kurdish fighters against troops loyal to President Bashar Al Assad and the arrival of Syrian rebels in the neighbourhood, the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The area targeted by the air strike is under control the PYD’s control, he said.
“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 added.
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 grass roots network of activists, showed burnt bodies lying in rubble.
The footage was reportedly filmed in the strike’s aftermath.
A second video showed a black cloud of smoke and flames rising above the presumed site of the strike.
Women can be heard screaming, while an unidentified cameraman says: “Right next to the PKK’s checkpoint, there’s corpses on the ground. Bring vehicles for the casualties, quick.” The same video shows a woman scream out as she picks up the body of a young girl from the ground.
It also shows the body of a boy lying next to a metal fence as residents rush to place several other children’s bodies on the back of a pick-up truck.
Elsewhere in Syria, the air force targeted Al Hajar Al Aswad in southern Damascus and Qadam in the southwest, said the 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 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.
Opposition forces have also established footholds in neighbourhoods on the edge of Damascus and in suburbs to the northeast and south, lobbing mortars into districts in the centre of the capital that they eventually hope to storm.
The ztate-ran Sana news agency said several mortar rounds hit areas near the Tishrin football stadium on Saturday.
The stadium is located in the capital’s central Barakmeh district.
The state news agency said there were casualties in Saturday’s attack, but did not say how many.
The Observatory says Saturday’s fighting was concentrated around the town of Al Otaybah, east of Damascus.