Several Syrians -- who have reached the Turkish border town of Kilis -- bring stories of horror about exploding barrels from the sky, the Washington Post website reports today (February 16, 2014).
The worst part is the terrifying anticipation as the barrel bombs are unleashed from warplanes roaring overhead, said one man who fled after three bombs demolished the street where he was living. The sight of rescuers scraping human remains from the sidewalk outside her home prompted another of the refugees to leave. A third Syrian -- a grandmother -- said she left because "Aleppo is empty." She added, "There's no one left -- no shops, no markets, no life at all."
The barrels -- crude cylinders stuffed with TNT that are being tipped out of warplanes at the rate of 20 a day -- have killed hundreds and injured thousands. They are almost all being dropped over residential areas, suggesting an intent to drive people out, residents say.
The barrel bombs are powerful enough to demolish apartment buildings, obliterate homes, and incinerate people, and their increased use has been the primary cause of a sharp increase in deaths in Syria over the past three weeks. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that 3,400 people have been killed since the Geneva peace talks began, making the three-week period since then "the most concentrated period of killing in the entire duration of the conflict," according to Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.