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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Despite peace talks, Assad’s forces drop barrel bombs

The Syrian air force bombed rebel-held areas on Saturday as fighting on multiple fronts raged across the country.

BEIRUT // Syria’s air force struck rebel-held areas near Damascus and Aleppo on Saturday, a monitoring group said, as regime and opposition representatives met briefly in the same room in Geneva for peace talks.

Government warplanes fired rockets at Talfita north of the capital, and helicopters struck Daraya to its south-west using deadly TNT-laden barrels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Air strikes also hit the Hanano, Qadi Askar, Salihin and Maysar areas of Aleppo city, swathes of which have been under rebel control since an assault on the city in July 2012.

Since December 15, Aleppo city has been the target of an aerial offensive that has killed hundreds, mostly civilians, the Observatory says.

The strikes come a day after barrel bomb attacks on Aleppo’s outlying industrial city and the Sheikh Najjar districts killed 10 people, the group added.

Rights groups have condemned the use of fighter jets and barrel bombings to target opposition areas as “indiscriminate.”

Fighting pitting opposition forces against troops loyal to president Bashar Al Assad meanwhile raged on across Syria’s multiple fronts.

Clashes erupted on the outskirts of the besieged Yarmuk Palestinian camp in southern Damascus, much of which is under rebel control.

In Raqa city, a stronghold of the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), a man was “arrested for walking with his wife, who was not wearing the niqab,” or full face veil, the Observatory said.

Isil issued four statements earlier this week ordering women to wear the niqab in public, forbidding the sale of cigarettes and shisha products, banning music and a fourth making attendance of Friday prayers compulsory.

Once welcomed by Syrian rebels seeking to topple Mr Al Assad, Isil’s abuses have turned much of the opposition against them.

In recent weeks, Isil has consolidated its hold on Raqa city, the only provincial capital to fall out of regime control since the outbreak of Syria’s conflict in March 2011.

More than 130,000 people have been killed in Syria in nearly three years, and millions more forced to flee their homes.

* Agence France-Presse