Activists say at least 33 people killed in airstrike on northern Syrian city of Aleppo

The Associated Press

This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a bulldozer removing the wreckage of a destroyed school that was hit by a Syrian government air strike in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Many people were killed and wounded, including several children, activists reported. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

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By ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government aircraft struck a busy market Thursday in a rebel-held district of Aleppo, killing at least 33 people in the latest deadly attack targeting mainly civilians in the contested city, opposition activists said.

Several activists said a government helicopter dropped three barrel bombs that exploded in the Hillok district, which was packed with shoppers at the time. They said the attack wounded scores of people.

"It was mayhem; many of the bodies are burned," said Hasson Abu Faisal, an activist in Aleppo.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 33 people were killed in Thursday's attack, including women. The local Aleppo Media Center put the toll at 44 killed. Such discrepancies are common in the immediate aftermath of attacks.

Activists said Hillok district has rarely been hit by government airstrikes in the past six months, leading many from neighboring, less safe areas, to move there.

It is the latest deadly government strike on the city, Syria's largest. Aleppo has been divided between government forces and rebels for nearly two years, with constant fighting doing little to change the balance on the ground.

President Bashar Assad's forces have been carrying out airstrikes and dropping crude barrel bombs in rebel-held districts in the eastern part of the city, at times hitting schools, mosques and markets.

On Wednesday, a government airstrike that hit a school in Aleppo killed 20 people, including 17 children, activists said. The attack took place as teachers and students were preparing an exhibit of children's drawings depicting Syria at war, activists said.

Last week, government airstrikes struck a crowded vegetable market in the opposition-held town of Atareb in Aleppo province, killing at least 30 people and wounding many others.

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