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UN envoy deplores Syrian barrel bombing

Air raids by Syrian government forces using barrel bombs over the weekend have been condemned by a UN envoy. A Britain-based observatory says 84 civilians, including children, were among those killed.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said the repeated use of the crude improvised weapons by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad was "totally unacceptable" and "must stop."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday that 84 civilians were killed when Assad regime

helicopters dropped the bombs

on Saturday on Shaar, a neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said the regime was intensifying such bombings in the belief that "it can compensate for territorial losses."

In May, Assad's forces lost territory in the northeastern province of Idlib and around the ancient city of Palmyra. Last Thursday, "Islamic State" (IS) rebels led by the al-Nusra Front

overran government positions in Idlib province.

Despite the losses, Syrian premier Wael al-Halqi on Sunday vowed that Assad's army would "liberate every foot of Syrian territory" from the jihadists.

Fighting unrelenting

Aerial raids continued Sunday, with three civilians reportedly killed in a barrel bomb attack on al-Bab, a town controlled by the IS.

At least 43 IS fighters were killed in airstrikes, involving missiles and barrel bombs, on the town of al-Shadadi in the northeastern province of al-Hassakeh, the observatory said.

It said air raids in the Damascus, Deir Ezzor and Daraa provinces also claimed civilian lives.

Syria's state news agency said eight civilians were killed in the Al-Aathamiyeh neighborhood of Aleppo, when "terrorists fired rockets" on Sunday.

Blast at clinic

Syrian state media also said 27 people, mostly children, were killed on Sunday when a fuel tank

exploded inside a clinic in Qamishli,

a predominantly Kurdish town in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey.

Kurdish official Juan Mohammed told the Associated Press that the clinic was packed with children brought in for polio vaccinations.

Control of Qamishli is divided between Kurdish forces and regime troops loyal to Assad. Until Sunday, the town had been relatively spared from violence.

IS captured Humvees en masse

Across the border in Iraq, where two weeks ago IS forces captured Ramadi, Iraqi government forces were reported on Sunday to have retaken an area to the west of the city.

Symbolbild - Humvee

Humvees: built in the USA, lost in Iraq

And, in an admission on Iraqiya state television, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles were lost when the IS group overran the northern city of Mosul in June last year.

"In the collapse of Mosul, we lost a lot of weapons," he said.

"We lost 2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone," Abadi said, referring to the expensive military all-terrain vehicles provided by the United States.

Since Mosul's fall, IS has used the captured Humvees in subsequent fighting.

ipj/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa)

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