Rockets fired by jihadists on April 15 killed at least 11 people in the Syrian city of Aleppo held by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, state news agency SANA reported.
Aleppo sits in the north of the country next to Idlib, a province dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Since the regime regained control of Aleppo at the end of 2016, the city has been targeted intermittently by jihadists and rebel fighters. SANA said the rockets fired by “terrorist groups” killed 11 “martyrs” and wounded 11 civilians in neighbourhoods of Aleppo, using terminology reserved for both jihadists and rebels.
The news agency originally reported that six civilians were among the dead, but its latest update did not give a breakdown. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the rockets were fired by jihadist groups, notably HTS. It said 20 rockets were fired into several neighbourhoods of Aleppo, and put the toll at three dead civilians, including a child, and five members of the security services. A photographer with AFP saw pools of blood and body parts on the ground as well as a car with shrapnel holes. In front of an Aleppo morgue, a man was seen trying to calm a child who was crying out for his lost mother, before he also broke down in tears.
Opposition fighters and jihadists overran large parts of Syria in the first years of war that broke out in 2011. But since Russia intervened on Assad’s side in 2015 the regime has notched up a series of victories against them. It has recaptured all rebel areas but Idlib province and parts of the neighbouring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia. Since September, these areas have been subject to a Russian-Turkish agreement providing for the creation of a “demilitarised zone” allowing them to avoid a major government offensive.
Despite the initiative whose terms have not been respected, the regime has resumed its deadly bombings in Idlib, while jihadists have launched attacks against government-held positions. The eight-year conflict has claimed more than 370,000 lives and displaced millions of people.