Syria airstrikes kill at least 40 people, say activists


A general view shows destroyed buildings following shelling by regime forces on Syria's northern city of Aleppo on October 18, 2012. International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called this week for a temporary ceasefire in Syria during the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, which starts on October 26.



Government airstrikes in northern Syria that started late on Wednesday and continued into Thursday morning have killed at least 40 people and leveled buildings in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

Activists opposing the regime relayed the news on Thursday, and the Associated Press said one video purportedly filmed during an airstrike on Thursday showed a man holding up two child-sized legs not connected to a body.

The New York Times said the aerial bombardment of the town Maarent al-Numan in Idlib province was among the most intense since President Bashar al-Assad's government started using warplanes and helicopters to fight the insurgency.

The Local Coordination Committees said "dozens of people were martyred" in a bombardment by MiG fighters of the Syrian Air Force, according to The Times.

Agence France Presse, which had a correspondent near the scene, reported that bombs had destroyed two residential buildings and a mosque, according to rescuers.

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"We have recovered 44 corpses from under the rubble," a worker told the AFP. The AFP correspondent saw 12 corpses wrapped in white sheets, and plastic bags marked "body parts" in a makeshift field hospital.

"At the moment it seems only three people survived the attack, including a 2-year-old child," a medic told AFP.

AFP reported that several fighter jets flew over the town and dropped at least 10 bombs.

The Times noted that the town is strategically located on the highway between Syria's two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo. Rebels had taken control of the town on Oct. 9 and were celebrating what they called its liberation.

The AP noted that several graphic videos posted on YouTube seemed to show evidence of the airstrike. One showed 18 white cloth bundles holding victims' remains, while another showed the aftermath of an airstrike in Aleppo, with men carrying bodies and digging for survivors.

United Nations estimates suggest more than 20,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011, where as activist groups say the death toll exceeds 30,000.

Meanwhile, the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been lobbying for a three-day ceasefire in Syria to mark Eid, with the surprising backing of Iran and Turkey. Brahimi will be in Damascus this weekend to further talks.

More on GlobalPost: Syrian cease-fire during holy holiday gains traction with government, rebels