Highest number of Syria air strikes recorded in July

Syria conducts 6,673 air raids, highest since start of uprising in 2011, killing 791 civilians, monitoring group says.

More than 1,600 civilians were killed during the month of July, a majority due to air strikes and barrel bombs [AFP]

Syrian government has conducted nearly 7,000 air strikes during the month of July, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, making it the most intense bombing reported in one month since the beginning of the conflict in 2011.

At least 6,673 air strikes were recorded during the month of July, including 3,654 barrel bombs dropped by government helicopters on 13 out of 14 Syrian provinces, the UK-based monitoring group said in its report on Saturday.

Damascus suburbs and Idlib province were the most targeted provinces, according the Observatory, which has a network of activists on the ground.

At least 791 civilians were killed due to these air strikes, including 207 children below the age of 18. At least 3,000 others were injured while thousands were forced to flee their homes as a result.

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The monitoring group reported that more than 600 fighters from al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other rebel groups were killed in the air raids on top of the civilian casualties.

It said that the death toll could increase as they could not record many of the bodies left under the rubble.

Syria’s Assad admits his army’s troubles

Earlier in July, UN Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was in Damascus on a visit to discuss possible solutions with President Bashar al-Assad. De Mistura condemned the use of barrel bombs in Zabadani near the capital during his stay in the country.

During the period between October and July this year, the Observatory recorded at least 26,517 air strikes, including 14,393 barrel bombs – which left almost 5,000 civilians killed, 1,000 of them children.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights, another group monitoring the war, recorded a total death toll of 1,674 during the month of July – over half of those killed are women and children.

The group said that the rising death toll is an indicator that government forces has been “deliberately and indiscriminately targeting civilians”.

Syria has been named as the most dangerous country in the world by the Global Peace Index. In 2008 the country classes as the 88th most peaceful country out of 126 nations included in the table.

Latest offensive

On Saturday, at least 20 government forces and 19 rebels from al-Fatah army were killed as government forces pushed rebels back from Hama province’s Sahl al-Ghab region – which borders Assad’s heartland in Latakia.

The Observatory said at least 28 government air strikes targeted areas in Sahl al-Ghab region where clashes are ongoing.

Earlier this week, the rebel alliance known as al-Fatah army which includes al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, began a major offensive in the area, taking around 17 strategic hilltops and other positions, including a power plant.

Elsewhere in Syria, ongoing clashes between al-Nusra Front and the US-backed opposition fighters also known as Division 30 were reported near Azaz in Aleppo province.

The UK-based Observatory said that fighters from Division 30 were forced to flee through tunnels they built around their main base to a nearby area controlled by Kurdish fighters.

More than 220,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict, which began with peaceful anti-government protests in March 2011 that were met with a bloody crackdown.

Source: Al Jazeera