Syrian Government Blamed for Ballistic Missile Attack

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BEIRUT, Lebanon -- A missile attack by government forces on the city of Aleppo in northern Syria killed at least 29 people, including 19 children, Syrian monitors said Saturday.

According to the monitors at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack struck the Bab al-Neirab neighborhood in the city's southwest, home to the headquarters of a number of rebel brigades, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is linked to Al Qaeda. It was unclear how many of the dead were civilians, but the Syrian Observatory, which monitors the conflict from Britain through a network of contacts on the ground, said four women were among the dead.

The forces of President Bashar al-Assad have stepped up the use of such missiles, which often reduce city blocks to rubble, a strategy that analysts say suggests that the military lacks sufficient infantry to accomplish its goals.

Also on Saturday, Syrian state news media reported that talks between government officials and a delegation from the United Nations over allowing access for investigators to the sites of suspected chemical weapons attacks during the war had resulted in "an agreement on the ways to move forward." The report gave no further details.

Reports of small-scale chemical weapons attacks have surfaced a number of times in the past year, and the war's continued escalation has raised fears that Mr. Assad's forces could deploy chemical weapons on a wide scale or that those weapons could fall into the hands of extremists.

Syria has yet to let the full team of United Nations investigators enter the country, and the delegation's visit last week sought to negotiate access. The government has wanted to limit the places the investigators can visit.

One site the investigators hoped to visit was Khan al-Assal, a town west of Aleppo where both the government and the rebels reported a deadly chemical weapons attack in March, with each side accusing the other.

Visiting the site could prove difficult because rebel fighters took it over on Friday, reportedly killing about 150 soldiers. The Syrian Observatory, which sympathizes with the opposition, said about one-third of them were executed by an extremist rebel brigade after surrendering.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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