THE Syrian military has stepped up ballistic missile strikes on rebel-held areas, including four attacks in the north last week that killed more than 141 people, including 71 children.
“I have visited many attack sites in Syria, but have never seen such destruction,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at the New York-based group Human Rights Watch, who has inspected the four areas.
“Just when you think things can’t get any worse, the Syrian government finds ways to escalate its killing tactics.”
Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoabi denied on Sunday that the government was using Scud missiles in the conflict, the Russia Today Arabic website reported.
A Human Rights Watch statement said there was no sign of fighters or rebel bases in areas hit by ballistic missiles, only civilians, meaning that the attacks were unlawful.
It said each strike had completely destroyed 15 to 20 houses, and the total death toll was probably higher than the 141 people it had been able to document.
“Using ballistic missiles against its own people is a new low, even for this government,” Solvang said.
Three of the places hit were in an opposition-controlled eastern part of Aleppo, where rebel forces took half the city in July and August but are now in a stalemate with the army.
The fourth missile struck Tel Rifat, a town north of Aleppo.
Human Rights Watch says the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that government forces had struck these areas with ballistic missiles.