December 12, 2014 / 12:27 PM / in 3 years

Syrian rebel 'hell cannons' kill 300 civilians: monitoring group

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels using improvised mortar bombs made of cooking gas canisters killed 311 civilians between July and December this year, a monitoring group said on Friday, condemning the use of the wildly inaccurate weapons.

A locally made shell is launched by rebel fighters towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at the frontline in al-Breij district of Aleppo December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Sultan Kitaz

Two-thirds of the deaths, or 203 people, were in the northern city of Aleppo where the so-called “hell cannons” have been fired on government-held districts of Syria’s second city.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the violence using sources on both sides, said that 42 children and 25 women were among the dead in Aleppo. It said more than 700 people had also been wounded during that time.

Syria’s official news agency SANA said on Thursday that “terrorists” fired 11 of the improvised bombs in the southern city of Deraa, wounding several civilians.

The canisters are packed with explosives, fitted with a guide fin and fired by large cannons.

Syria’s war started with a pro-democracy movement that grew into an armed uprising and has inflamed regional confrontations. Some 200,000 people have died, the United Nations says.

Chemical weapons have been used, the international chemical weapon watchdog says, and the United Nations says that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have dropped improvised and indiscriminate barrel bombs on Aleppo.

Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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