A barrel bomb killed at least 15 people, including children, in one of two deadly attacks Thursday in the Syrian city of Aleppo, two groups monitoring the situation say.
There was a discrepancy in the number of children reported killed in the airstrike in the rebel-held Bab al-Nayrab neighborhood. The activist group Aleppo Media Center reported five children were among the dead; the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 11 children had died.
The AMC posted several harrowing videos online following the barrel bombing, including one showing two boys covered in dust, desperately clinging to each other and crying after learning their brother had died.
“My brother is gone,” one sobs.
Amnesty International says barrel bombs are a common tactic of the Syrian regime. The strikes came amid Russia’s agreement to a 48-hour ceasefire and the United Nations’ emphasis on a need for one.
The group also reported eight people were killed Thursday, including two children, when rebels fired mortar rounds into regime-held areas in western Aleppo.
Last week a video posted by the Aleppo Media Center captivated the world and was another stark reminder of the toll of the war in Syria. It showed a boy, Omran Daqneesh — no older than five years old — bloodied and covered with dusk, sitting silently in an ambulance awaiting help after his family’s house was destroyed by an airstrike.
‘I lost five children’
Activists posted videos of the barrel bomb attack online. CNN cannot independently verify their authenticity.
The videos purportedly taken in the rebel-held area in southern Aleppo show rescuers helping survivors and searching for the missing. Residents dig through rubble, looking for loved ones.
Men and women carry dead children covered with dust, sobbing and crying. In one of the videos, a man sits outside his demolished house, visibly upset. “Don’t step over them,” he says, referring to his family members. “I lost my five children, oh God.”
Mother speaks to dead child
Another video posted by activists in Aleppo shows a woman speaking to her dead child.
“Hassan, it’s your mom,” the mother says as she looks at the child whose eyes are still open.
“He is my son … he is gone,” she screams. “My sons, your brother is dead, your brother is dead.”
She touches his face and closes his eyes.
As the stories of death and destruction come out of Aleppo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold talks in Geneva on Friday that will focus on Syria.
“Unless fighting stops inside, unless those pauses first happen and then become permanent, there’s millions of people that are trapped inside the country and I hate to think what their fate is if we cannot reach them very quickly,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High commissioner for refugees.
Another video purportedly shows a chaotic scene at the hospital as women, men and children frantically search for their loved ones.
A child lies on a hospital bed in shock as he looks around, covered in dust. Two girls on the ground cry for a lost family member as their father tells them not to look at the carnage.
“Don’t look, turn your eyes away,” he implores.
Residents evacuate besieged city
Meanwhile, about 200 miles south of Aleppo, residents are preparing to evacuate the city of Daraya, which the Syrian regime has pounded, monitoring groups say, with barrel bombs.
A convoy of Red Crescent ambulances arrived early Friday at the city, which is just southwest of Syria’s capital, Damascus.
The Local Council of Daraya has said civilian families will be brought to western Ghouta in the Damascus province, while Free Syrian Army fighters and their families will be moved towards Idlib, in northern Syria.
In a series of tweets, residents are seen carrying their belongings along the streets of the heavily damaged town, which has faced food and water shortages.
Others took the time to say goodbye by posting selfies.
In addition to barrel bombs, the Syrian regime has been accused of using other forms of weapons.
The White House condemned the Syrian government Thursday after announcing that a year-long UN-backed investigation found President Bashar al-Assad’s government and ISIS had used chemical weapons.
“It is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people,” US National Security Council (NSC) spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Wednesday.