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Human Rights Watch says Syrian government using barrel bombs in defiance of UN resolution

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BEIRUT — The Syrian government is still indiscriminately bombing civilians with explosives-filled barrels in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution, an international human rights group said Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch's statement came as the Security Council is expected to meet later in the day for a fifth round of reporting on the resolution.

February's resolution demanded a halt to all attacks against civilians and indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment -- including the use of so-called barrel bombs -- in populated areas.

The New York-based group has documented over 650 strikes on rebel-held neighborhoods in the northern city of Aleppo since the resolution's adoption. It noted in the report that opposition fighters also carry out indiscriminate attacks, including mortar strikes and car bombings.

The crude weapons — barrels packed with explosives and scraps of metal and pushed out of helicopters — cannot be precisely targeted, and have caused widespread civilian casualties.

Barrel bombs on Aleppo have killed more than 2,000 people this year, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists inside the war-torn country.

"Month after month, the Security Council has sat idly by as the government defied its demands with new barrel bomb attacks on Syrian civilians," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Russia and China need to allow the Security Council to show the same resolve and unanimity it brought to the issue of humanitarian aid to call a halt to these deadly attacks on civilians."

"In the first 140 days since the resolution was passed, Human Rights Watch identified over 650 new major impact strikes in Aleppo neighborhoods held by opposition groups, an average of almost five a day," the group said.

Over 170,000 people have been killed in Syria in more than three years of fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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