At least 13 people were killed and 17 wounded after a Syrian government helicopter dropped a barrel bomb on a rebel-held area in the city of Aleppo, residents and a monitoring group have said.

Residents found children "torn apart" following the barrel bomb attack, a local resident told the AFP news agency of the attack on Saturday morning in Maadi in northeastern Aleppo.

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The death toll could rise because of the number of seriously injured people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory reported the death of only one child, but the local resident said at least four were killed.

"They found four children torn apart after the helicopter dumped its barrel bomb, may God curse him," the man said, referring to President Bashar al-Assad, the focus of a three-year struggle by rebels to overthrow him.

An AFP journalist on the scene saw a building with its roof caved in and other major damage. 

In another part of the city, three children died and a dozen people were wounded after rebel rockets struck a regime-held district, the Observatory said.

Last month the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the number of rebel sectors hit by barrel bombs had almost doubled in five months.

The regime has pressed on with its barrel bomb campaign despite a United Nations resolution on February 22 banning their indiscriminate use in populated areas.

HRW described barrel bombs as "cheaply made, locally produced, and typically constructed from large oil drums, gas cylinders, and water tanks, filled with high explosives and scrap metal to enhance fragmentation, and then dropped from helicopters".

Source: AFP