BEIRUT – Airstrikes on markets in northern and central Syria killed and wounded dozens of people on Wednesday, opposition monitoring groups said, as the government reported “huge material damage” to Aleppo’s main museum caused by rebel shelling.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said airstrikes on a market in the northwestern town of Ariha killed 12 people, including three children, and that airstrikes in the central town of Rastan killed 16 people.
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The Local Coordination Committees, another activist network, said nine people were killed in the aerial attacks on Ariha, in the insurgent-held Idlib province. It said the air raids on Rastan killed and wounded dozens.
Idlib borders Turkey and is a stronghold of the Fatah Army, an insurgent coalition that includes the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front. Rastan was one of the first Syrian towns to fall into rebel hands.
State news agency SANA meanwhile reported damage to the main museum in Aleppo following days of rebel shelling of government-held neighbourhoods. The contested city has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks, which has closed off the Castello road, effectively sealing off rebel-held districts where tens of thousands of people live.
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SANA quoted a government statement as saying that dozens of mortar shells have hit the museum in recent days. It said “the museum suffered huge material damage” including the partial destruction of its concrete roof, as well as gates, offices and parts of the outer wall.
The head of the Department of Antiquities and Museums in Aleppo, Khalid al-Masri, said the archaeological collections in the museum are mostly intact and suffered very little damage. He did not elaborate.
Syria’s five-year conflict has battered many archaeological sites, including Aleppo’s old quarter, a UNESCO world heritage site. The Islamic State group has deliberately destroyed archaeological sites in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.