Syria warplanes bomb buildings, kill 3 children

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BEIRUT — Syrian warplanes bombed two buildings Monday in the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least five people, including three children from the same family, activists said.

The Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll could very well rise, with more people feared to be buried under the rubble of the two destroyed buildings.

Aleppo-based activist Mohammed Saeed said the raid came before dawn. He added that the aim behind such strikes on residential areas is to “terrify the people and try to turn them against” the rebels’ Free Syrian Army.

“The regime wants people to say that had the Free Syrian Army not entered the city, the regime wouldn’t have bombed us,” Mr. Saeed said.

The fight for Aleppo, a city of 3 million that was once a bastion of support for President Bashar Assad, began in late July and is critical for both the regime and the opposition.

If it falls to the opposition, it would be a major strategic victory in the civil war, giving fighters a stronghold in the north near the Turkish border.

A rebel defeat, at the very least, would buy Mr. Assad more time.

Activists say nearly 30,000 people already have died in the uprising against Mr. Assad’s rule that began 18 months ago, inspired by the other revolts around the Arab world against authoritarian rulers.

The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said the airstrikes on the southern neighborhood of Maadi destroyed the targeted buildings.

Fighting and shelling have been a daily occurrence in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial capital, since late July when rebels attacked it and took over several neighborhoods.

Repeated attacks by government troops to regain control of the areas have so far been unsuccessful.

The battle for Aleppo has marked the first time that the regime has used helicopters and warplanes regularly to strike from the air, bringing an even heavier toll of civilian casualties than before when military forces relied heavily on often indiscriminate artillery and tank shelling.

The observatory said five people were killed in the latest airstrikes while the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) said eight died.

The LCC said the dead included three children from the same family.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the observatory, said the death toll could rise with more people feared buried under the rubble.

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