Deadly rebel shelling batters
Aleppo Kurdish quarter

At least 14 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the mortar barrage on Sheikh Maqsoud.

Sheikh Maqsoud. (image via Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)

BEIRUT – Rebel factions have launched a bloody mortar barrage on the Kurdish enclave in Aleppo that killed and wounded dozens of civilians, including women and children.


Insurgent factions operating outside Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsoud commenced a fierce offensive on the Kurdish-populated district in the north of Syria’s second city at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


The monitoring NGO tracking developments in the war-torn country reported Wednesday that the ensuing clashes between the Al-Nusra Front and other insurgent factions on one side and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on other have left nine combatants dead.


Civilians in the besieged Sheikh Maqsoud district, however, have suffered the most from the assault, as rebel groups have pounded the neighborhood with a withering mortar barrage.


According to the Observatory, at least 14 Sheikh Maqsoud residents—including three children, an elderly woman and a pregnant woman—were killed by the ongoing shelling.


“The number of dead is expected to rise since over 50 people were injured, including at least 20 children, some of whom remain in critical condition,” the report added.


The Observatory also posted a series of gruesome photos on its Facebook page showing dead and injured civilians, including young children.


Rebels firing on Sheikh Maqsoud. (YouTube/Eye on the Homeland)


Meanwhile, videos circulated on social media showed rebels gathered outside Sheikh Maqsoud launching round after round of mortars into the Kurdish enclave, which lies next to a vital rebel supply route that Kurdish YPG forces have attempted to cut in recent months.


Also known as "Death Road," the Castello Highway spans the northern edges of Aleppo. Since regime forces cut off rebel supply lines leading southward into the city from Turkey, the dangerous thoroughfare has served as the only supply line into its rebel-held western sectors.


The Kurdish ANHA news agency—which is closely affiliated with the YPG—also reported 14 civilian casualties in what it called the “heavy and indiscriminate” bombardment of Sheikh Maqsoud.


The ruling Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) political coalition of the de-facto autonomous Kurdish regions of northern Syria strongly condemned the assault as well as “international silence in the face of massacres.”


“We call on international parties… to put an end to massacres being committed against civilians in this district,” the statement said.


Tensions have ratcheted up between the YPG and armed opposition groups in and around Aleppo after Kurdish troops in February rolled back anti-Syrian regime rebels from a number of their positions in a thin corridor of territory north of Aleppo near the Turkish border.


Syrian rebel groups have accused the YPG of coordinating its offensives with Damascus at the expense of the "revolution," while the Kurds and their allies insist they are "rescuing" villages from Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.


NOW’s English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. 

Damage in Sheikh Maqsoud. (image via Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)

We call on international parties… to put an end to massacres being committed against civilians in this district.