LATEST: Video — Insurgents Display Head of Iranian Commander Killed in Hama Province


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Amid regime barrel-bombing in and near Aleppo, the Local Coordination Committees report that 96 people were killed across Syria on Friday.

Of the deaths, 65 were in Aleppo Province. More than 2,000 people have been slain by bombs in the area since the start of the year, as the regime tries to counter insurgent gains and make its own advance to the north and east of Syria’s largest city.

In the last 48 hours, bombing has been reported in the Aleppo neighborhoods of Qarleq, Qattaneh, Hellok, Bestan Al Basha, Bustan al-Qasr, and Shaar and in the provincial towns of Daret Ezzeh, Hreitan, and Atareb.

The Violations Documentation Center has documented the deaths of 97,218 people since the start of the conflict in March 2011. Of the dead, 70,429 were civilians.

Searching for wounded after an airstrike on Azaz on Friday:

Video: Insurgents Display Head of Iranian Commander Killed in Hama Province

Footage of insurgents displaying the head of Colonel Abdollah Eskandari, an Iranian commander killed in fighting this week (Warning — Graphic):

Iranian media acknowledged Eskandari’s death, but said he had been killed “defending the shrine of Sayyeda Zainab” in southern Damascus — their standard phrase for any Iranian slain in the conflict.

The insurgents say Eskandari died in fighting for Morek in Hama Province.

The Syrian regime has been trying for weeks to take Morek, which lies on the main highway from Hama north to Idlib and Aleppo Provinces.

Eskandari led the Martyrs Foundation in Fars Province until 2013, when he travelled to Syria to work with President Assad’s forces.

12 NGOs Call for “New Approach” for Aid

Twelve NGOs have called for a new approach to delivery of aid to Syrians, saying diplomatic efforts have “tragically and lethally” failed.

The signatories of the letter include Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, Doctors of the World UK, and the Norwegian Refugee Council. They assert:

Ninety days ago, the UN security council unanimously adopted a resolution to relieve suffering in Syria by requiring that humanitarian assistance be provided through the most direct routes possible.

It is clear that the resolution has failed to achieve this objective: its demands have been ignored by the warring parties and people continue to be deliberately denied access to life-saving aid.

The humanitarian situation is deteriorating, violence escalating and diplomatic efforts to bring about a negotiated solution have failed.

The Security Council adopted a resolution on February 22 calling for aid to be able to reach more than 5 million displaced Syrians, but the threat of a Russian veto prevented any enforcement measures.

The Syrian regime has blocked assistance to many insurgent-held areas, as it maintains sieges in an effort to break insurgents. The UN reported earlier this month that 75% of food and 85% of medicines are sent to regime-controlled neighborhoods, compared to a 50-50 split last year.

The 12 agencies argue, “Efforts should focus on securing local ceasefires among the parties to the conflict – through meaningful negotiations not siege tactics and starvation strategies — so that aid can be delivered, economies restarted and dialogue to find a longer-term solution to the crisis renewed.”

Islamic Front: Underground Bomb Kills At Least 40 Regime Troops in Aleppo Province

The Islamic Front claims that insurgents set off another underground bomb on Friday, killing at least 40 Syrian troops, in Aleppo.

The blast occurred near the Zahrawi market, not far from the historic Citadel.

Insurgents have carried out a series of underground detonations, after weeks of tunnelling, against regime targets this year in Aleppo and Idlib Province. Earlier this month they blew up the Carlton Citadel Hotel, used as a military headquarters near the Citadel.

See Insurgents Blow Up Hotel Near Aleppo Citadel, Claim 50+ Syrian Forces Killed

UN Experts: Security Council’s Failure to Refer Conflict to ICC “Opens Door for New Atrocities”

United Nations human rights experts said on Friday that the Security Council’s failure to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court leaves the door open for new atrocities.

Russia and China vetoed a French-drafted resolution last week.

The experts said, “The double veto…to a resolution referring the situation in Syria to the ICC is likely to expose the Syrian population to further gross human rights and humanitarian law violations. The failure to hold those responsible for the violations to account may fuel further atrocities.”

They declared:

Given the absence of prosecution at the domestic level, it was the UN Security Council’s responsibility to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.”

“Referring the situation in Syria to the ICC would have been an important and most necessary step both to protect civilians against continued and future violations by all sides to the conflict, and to curb impunity for the grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law, some amounting to crimes against humanity.

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