Civilians killed in Aleppo as rebels attack Armenian neighbourhood

Syrian rebels shelled a government-held neighbourhood in the northern city of Aleppo early on Saturday, killing at least nine people and wounding dozens, the Associated Press reports quoting Syrian state television and an activist group reported.

Hours after the shelling, helicopter gunships struck a market in Aleppo’s rebel-held neighbourhood of Maadi in apparent retaliation, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition-run Aleppo Media Center.

The Observatory said the airstrike killed eight people and wounded dozens, some seriously. The Aleppo Media Center reported casualties but did not provide a precise toll.

The violence came as the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees planned to undertake an “urgent mission” to Damascus later on Saturday amid concerns over the situation in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, most of which has been captured by Islamic State (Isis).

State media said the shelling on the predominantly Christian and Armenian neighbourhood of Sulaymaniyah in Aleppo early on Saturday killed nine people, wounded another 50 and damaged several buildings.

The Observatory, which has a network of activists around the country, said the shelling killed 10 people and wounded “tens”.

Syrian rebels have shelled residential areas in government-held parts of the contested city in the past, killing hundreds of people. Government aircraft have dropped explosives-filled barrels on rebel-held neighborhoods in Aleppo and other cities, killing thousands.

State media reported the rebels shelled the neighborhood with a so-called Hell Cannon, a crude, locally made weapon that fires gas cylinders filled with explosives. The projectiles cause widespread damage and cannot be precisely targeted. State television showed a building with its top three floors collapsed.

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