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Syrian rights group says barrel bombs killed 123 people in Aleppo

DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- More than 123 people were killed in an aerial attack by government-backed forces using barrel bombs in Aleppo this week, an opposition group said.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said in a report issued Wednesday the death toll from barrel bombs used Sunday and Monday included 39 children and 10 women.

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The organization said it considered barrel bombs random weapons meant to kill and destroy indiscriminately. It said government forces began using them in September 2012 and have fired nearly 1,000 such bombs since, killing more than 1,200 citizens and destroying hundreds of buildings, mainly in Aleppo.

Barrel bombs are made of a barrel filled with TNT, steel and oil and dropped from helicopters. The resulting explosion from the barrel bombs can kill and maim across a wider area than high explosives.

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Among the targets were a school, a market and a culture center near a mosque, the Syrian Network for Human Rights report said.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said it considered the barrel bomb shellings deliberate and constituted to a war crime.

Among the report's recommendations was a call on the Syrian government to end all human rights violations and respect international norms concerning protection of civilians during wartime. The report also recommended holding supporters of President Bashar Assad's regime -- such as Russia, Iran and China -- responsible for what's happening to the Syrian people.

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It urged the U.N. Security Council, among other things, to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court and pressure Assad's allies to prevent them from "providing cover and international and political protections for all the crimes committed against the Syrian people."

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