UN: War crimes on both sides in Syria
The UN Human Rights Council said Wednesday war crimes have been committed by both the Assad regime, and the rebels in Syria. Meanwhile, government war planes bombed a rebel-held town, killing more than 20.
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Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, whose nation is Assad's most staunch regional supporter, told reporters before the opening session in Saudi Arabia that suspending Syria will not resolve the issue of the unrest there.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Battle for the heart of Syria: inside Aleppo
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A wide-ranging tableau of violence and retributions on Wednesday reinforced the U.N.'s warnings.
A blast in central Damascus rattled — but did not injure — U.N. observers, followed by the airstrikes in Azaz. And in tense Lebanon, a powerful Shiite clan that backs Assad said it abducted at least 20 Syrians in retaliation for rebels holding one of their relatives captive in Syria. The rebels accuse the Lebanese man of belonging to Hezbollah, a Shiite Lebanese group allied with Syria and Iran.
The bombing of Azaz brought into stark relief the limits of the rebels' expanding control of Syria's north.
In recent months, rebels have pushed the Syrian army from a number of towns in a swath of territory south of the Turkish border and north of Aleppo, Syria's largest city. About a dozen destroyed tanks and army vehicles are scattered around Azaz, left over from those battles.
As the Assad regime's grip on the ground slips, however, it is increasingly targeting rebel areas with attack helicopters and fighter jets — weapons the rebels can't challenge.
Rebels and residents of the Aleppo countryside say the army rarely hits rebel targets, striking instead at residential areas and killing civilians.
The Azaz bombings appeared to fit that pattern.
The first blast seemed to come out of nowhere, shaking the city's downtown and sending up a huge gray cloud of smoke that sent terrified residents rushing through the streets looking for cover.
Not long after, another jet appeared, dropping bombs nearby.
"We were in the house and heard this plane overhead," said a 36-year-old woman who gave her name as Um Hisham. "There was this huge boom that made my mother pass out in the kitchen."
Hundreds of residents flocked to the bombing sites to inspect the damage and look for dead and wounded in the rubble.
The first blast damaged houses and shattered shop windows along nearby streets. It sheared off the front wall of one home, exposing a man and his wife inside their kitchen, where jars of olives and pickles still sat in the cupboards.
"I saw the plane come down and some missiles fall and then there was smoke all over," said Mohammed Fuad, 18. "When it cleared, we heard screaming and saw rubble all over the streets."
More than a dozen homes were reduced to a huge expanse of broken concrete. Men wandered the area, lifting up bricks and peering through holes in collapsed roofs to see if anyone was stuck underneath.
One group brought a generator and an electric saw to cut through rebar, while others cleared rubble from the road so pickup trucks ferrying the dead and injured could pass.
Many of those gathered screamed at foreign journalists, decrying the international community for not intervening militarily in Syria's civil war. The revolt that started in March 2011 with protests calling for political change has killed more than 20,000 people, activists say.
Many of the wounded were driven directly to the Turkish border, four miles (six kilometers) to the north.
Nour, the local activist, said there were 15 dead in a hospital in Turkey and 10 who had been buried in the town. He said many more had yet to be counted.