A new round of Syrian government air raids on opposition-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo killed at least 15 people on Tuesday, including three children, activists said.

The strikes extended the furious aerial assault by President Bashar Assad’s warplanes and helicopters on the embattled city into its tenth day. Activists say more than 360 people were killed in the first nine days of the campaign, which began Dec. 15.

Tuesday’s airstrikes hit the opposition-held Sukkari neighborhood of Aleppo, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, which said at least 15 were killed.

Another activist group, the Aleppo Media Center, said at least 33 people were killed and 150 were wounded. Disparate death tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of such attacks.

The Aleppo Media Center said the strikes were carried out by jets and helicopters, and hit at least three sites, causing extensive damage, toppling apartment buildings and setting houses and cars ablaze.

The soaring death toll and massive damage caused by the aerial campaign prompted the U.S. and Britain on Monday to both condemn the assault on Aleppo.

Peace talks in jeopardy

Syria’s opposition coalition said on Tuesday it will not attend the UN-sponsored peace talks planned for Jan. 22 in Switzerland if President Bashar al-Assad’s forces continued a fierce air raid campaign on the northern city of Aleppo.

The opposition’s Syrian National Coalition said in a statement that it “cannot in good conscience participate in peace talks in Geneva as Assad regime forces continue to bombard the city of Aleppo and surrounding areas for the ninth consecutive day.”

World powers, particularly the United States and Russia, have been working to bring the opposition and Assad to negotiations, dubbed “Geneva 2,” due to begin in January. The aim is to agree on a transitional government to bring Syria out of a two-and-a-half-year conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.

Syria’s turmoil began as a popular protest movement against four decades of Assad family rule but descended into an armed conflict.

Opposition figure Monzer Akbik, chief of staff to Coalition President Ahmed Jarba, called on foreign powers to act to stop the Aleppo attacks.

“The lack of international consensus in stopping this latest war crime is directly emboldening Assad to significantly escalate violence against the Syrian people,” he said in the statement.

The U and Russian-brokered talks aim to find a political solution to Syria’s conflict, which has killed more than 120,000 people since it began in March 2011.

But the White House on Monday condemned recent missile and barrel bomb attacks on civilians by the Syrian government and said Damascus must respect its commitment to allow unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid.,

“The attacks over the weekend killed more than 300 people, many of them children,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement. “The Syrian government must fulfill its November commitment to do more to facilitate the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance, so that millions of Syrian men, women, and children have access to urgently needed services,” Carney said.

source: todayszaman