AZAZ, Syria – Syrian fighter jets screamed through the sky Wednesday over this rebel-held town, dropping bombs that leveled the better part of a poor neighborhood and wounded scores of people, many of them women and children buried under piles of rubble. Activists said more than 20 people were killed.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people died in the double airstrike and more than 200 were wounded. Mohammed Nour, a local activist reached by phone, put the death toll at 25. Neither figure could be independently confirmed.
Reporters from The Associated Press saw nine dead bodies in the bombings immediate aftermath, including a baby.
The bombings sent panicked civilians fleeing for cover. So many were wounded that the local hospital locked its doors, directing residents to drive to the nearby Turkish border so the injured could be treated on the other side. One persons remains were bundled into a small satchel.
The bombing of Azaz, about 30 miles north of Aleppo, shattered the sense of control rebels have sought to project since they took the area from President Bashar Assads army last month. Azaz is also the town where rebels have been holding 11 Lebanese Shiites they captured in May.
The attack came on the same day the U.N. released a report accusing Assads forces and pro-government militiamen of war crimes during a May bloodbath in the village of Houla that killed more than 100 civilians, nearly half of them children. It said rebels were also responsible for war crimes in at least three other killings.
The long-awaited report by the U.N. Human Rights Council marks the first time the world body has referred to events in Syria as war crimes – on both the government and rebel sides – and could be used in future prosecutions against Assad or others.