Syria: Azaz airstrike leaves many dead


Syrian rebels hunt for snipers near Aleppo on July 23, 2012.


Bulent Kilic

Clashes between the Syrian army and rebel forces continued in Aleppo today, leaving 18 civilians and eight soldiers dead, the AFP reported.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, today's violence follows one of the country's bloodiest days yet. At least 172 people were killed across Syria including in Azaz, where over 40 people were killed in an airstrikes carried out by the Syrian government.

The air raid left homes in Azaz flattened, and over 200 people wounded. The local hospital was forced to shut its doors, instead directing residents to the nearby Turkish border so that the injured could be treated on the other side, Al Jazeera reported.

Online videos reportedly taken in Azaz showed residents pulling victims from under rubble the Associated Press reported.

“This horrific attack killed and wounded scores of civilians and destroyed a whole residential block,” said Anna Neistat, Human Rights Watch's acting emergencies director to the AP. “Yet again, Syrian government forces attacked with callous disregard for civilian life.”

The violence has also spilled over into Lebanon, where more than 20 Syrians and at least one Turkish man were abducted by a power Shiite clan in retaliation for the capture of Hassan al-Meqdad by anti-Assad rebels in Damascus earlier this week, NBC News reported. The Guardian reported that the clan may take more hostages unless the rebels release Meqdad who they claim is a member of Hezbollah, although Hezbollah and his family have denied this.

In Saudi Arabia, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has voted to suspend Syria's membership, agreeing on "the need to end immediately the acts of violence in Syria."

The AFP reported that the United States have commended the OIC for the decision, which sends a "strong message" to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Iran slammed the decision, calling it "unfair and unjust."