Middle East

Syria conflict: Air strike on Rastan 'kills family'

Video posted online by opposition activists purportedly showing men putting bodies onto a stretcher in Rastan, Syria, after government air strike on 18 May 2016 Image copyright Al-RASTAN
Image caption An amateur video posted by activists online after the air strike showed several bodies

A government air strike on a rebel-held town in central Syria has killed at least 12 members of the same family, activists and a monitoring group say.

Most of the victims resulting from the raid on a residential district in Rastan were reportedly children.

A video posted online after the strike showed several bodies, including those of three children, lying on a floor.

One of the last rebel strongholds in Homs province, Rastan has been besieged by troops since the start of the year.

The town, where some 120,000 people are believed to be sheltering, was one of the first areas to rise up against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the Syrian conflict through a network of sources, said 13 people were killed in Wednesday's air strike, including two parents, their two sons and four daughters.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, an opposition activist network, put the death toll at 12.

The LCC reported that the government warplanes had fired "vacuum missiles" on a shelter, an apparent reference to fuel-air explosives (FAEs).

FAEs are more powerful than conventional high-explosive munitions of comparable size, are more likely to kill and injure people in bunkers and shelters, and kill and injure in a particularly brutal manner over a wide area, Human Rights Watch says.

Such bombs are reported to have been used by Syrian government and Russian forces, which launched an air campaign against Mr Assad's opponents last year.

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