Dozens of people are dead in the hotly contested Syrian city of Aleppo following reported "barrel bomb" raids by the regime air force, marking the latest deadly incident in the almost 3-year-old brutal violence.
Activists describe the attack as unprecedented, reports AFP. At least 76 people are dead from barrels that were packed with explosives and dropped by the Syrian air force on the town, previously considered a rebel stronghold. The barrels were dropped on six rebel-control regions, including Ard-Hamra and Sakhur.
"The barrels of explosives are not like bombs," activist Abdel Rahman told AFP. "Their impact is not accurate as they are dropped without any guidance system, and that is why they cause a large number of victims." . Each barrel is lined with concrete "so that they cause as much destruction and death as possible," he said.
International concern for the Syrian people is at an all-time high. The U.N. launches a new initiative this week, the 2014 Syrian humanitarian crisis consolidated budget appeal, to raise money for aid, including food, for the Syrian people. State Department Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Anne Claire Richard travels to Geneva on Monday to participate in the launch of the appeal.
Margo Ellis, second in command of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said earlier in Dec. 3 the tragedy in Syria is "one of the most profoundly complex emergencies" the organization has ever faced.
A spike in insurgent violence prompted the U.S. last week to withdraw all non-lethal aid to Syria. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned about al-Qaida-affiliated groups such as the Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, operating among the rebel forces.
This all comes at a complicated time for the embattled country. The U.N. and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have said all chemical weapons must be removed from the country by the end of 2013, less than two weeks away, and destroyed by the middle of 2014.
"I deplore in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in Syria as an offense against the universal values of humankind," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Friday. "The international community continues to expect that the Syrian Arab Republic will implement faithfully its obligations related to the complete elimination of its chemical weapons programme by the first half of 2014, and that it will abide by global norms on disarmament and non-proliferation."
Well over 100,000 have been killed in Syria, with millions displaced from their homes, according to the latest U.N. figures.