Aazaz (Syria): A Syrian air strike on a rebel bastion in the north on Thursday flattened a string of houses and killed 23 people including children, activists said, leaving residents wailing in grief and anger.

"Bashar did this. God help us, these animals will kill us all," said one man, hoisting a bloodied arm from a pile of body parts on the pavement outside the hospital in the town of Aazaz after the bombardment.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people were killed in the attack by a MiG fighter jet, the latest atrocity blamed on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, but the toll was expected to rise.

The dead included women and children, while another 200 people were wounded, it said. "There are many people still trapped under the rubble," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. "The situation is horrific."

An AFP correspondent said at least 10 houses had been flattened in the attack on Aazaz which lies just north of the main battleground city of Aleppo and is often used as rear base by rebel Free Syrian Army fighters.

"This was a civilian area. All these houses were packed with women and children sleeping during the fast," said witness Abu Omar, a civil engineer in his 50s, referring to the dawn-to-dusk fast Muslims observe during Ramadan.

"Only dogs can do something like this. Israel wouldn't do such a thing in a war," he told. Witnesses and FSA forces who reinforced security around the town after the strike said the jet fired twice, targeting a makeshift media centre used by foreign reporters in the second, smaller strike.

The attack came amid heavy shelling of several districts of Aleppo, regarded as a pivotal battleground in the conflict that is now entering its 18th month and has killed more than 23,000 people according to activists.

Dozens of people, many wailing and shouting, were climbing over the rubble, trying to pull out victims, while hundreds of others fled.


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