Beirut: Helicopters dropped TNT-packed barrels on a vegetable market and next to a hospital in Syria`s northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 20 civilians including two children on Saturday, a monitoring group said.
"The number of people killed has risen to 20 including two children, a teenager, a woman and a media activist," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of activists on the ground, described the bombing as a "massacre".
"The raid targeted a crowded market where people were buying vegetables and home appliances," it said. "Many buildings have been damaged, and one collapsed."
According to the Observatory and activists in Aleppo, President Bashar al-Assad`s regime has waged a massive aerial offensive against Aleppo and nearby villages since December 15, killing more than 400 people, most of them civilians.
Warplanes have launched rockets and helicopters dropped so-called barrel bombs, often on densely populated areas, terrorising residents of rebel-held areas.
Human rights organisations as well as Arab and Western countries have condemned the offensive as "indiscriminate" and "unlawful," while Assad`s regime says it is targeting "terrorists".
Activists said Ahmad al-Hajji, an independent anti-regime activist, was among those killed yesterday.
Activists distributed a recording of Hajji taking part in a discussion on Syria that had been broadcast live on an official television channel months into the country`s anti-Assad revolt.
"Stop treating us like idiots," Hajji had said, calling on "all media (in Syria), both public and private... To show how the demonstrations are being suppressed. We should be protecting these demonstrations."
Syria`s war broke out after Assad`s regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent, when an Arab Spring-style revolt erupted, calling for change.