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Bombing raid on Syrian market kills 53

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November 14, 2017

A massive bombstrike has killed 53 people and destroyed a northern Syrian town.

At least 53 people have been killed in air raids on a market in a northern Syrian town that is part of a so-called de-escalation zone, a monitoring group says.

The market in rebel-held Attareb, to the west of Aleppo, was hit by at least three raids, the Britain-based Syrian Obserbatory for Human Rights said, adding that it was not clear if they were carried out by by Syrian or allied Russian warplanes.

Local activists posted pictures online of massive damage and dead men, women and children. They also posted videos of panic-stricken civilians carrying the badly injured. Five children were among the dead, according to the Observatory.

"De-escalation zones" were set up earlier this year under a deal signed by Syrian government allies Russia and Iran, and Turkey, one of the Syrian opposition's main backers.

They were supposed to create safe havens for civilians, with both sides expected to refrain from hostilities.

Rebels still hold some areas in rural areas west of Aleppo, though the government took full control of the city in December.

The market raid came hours after Amnesty International said the Syrian government's tactics, including sieges, unlawful killings and the forced displacement of thousands of civilians, were crimes against humanity.

In a new report, titled "We leave or we die", the London-based rights group said such actions were conducted by the Syrian government between August 2016 and March 2017 in six regions near Damascus as well as in the cities of Aleppo, Idlib and Homs.

"While the Syrian government's stated aim has been to vanquish opposition fighters, its cynical use of 'surrender or starve' tactics has involved a devastating combination of sieges and bombardments," said Amnesty International's Philip Luther.

"These have been part of a systematic, as well as widespread, attack on civilians that amounts to crimes against humanity," he added.

Amnesty called on all states to assist the United Nations in investigating and prosecuting those responsible.

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