Middle East

Syria conflict: 'Army rocket kills 31 in Aleppo'

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Media captionAmateur footage appeared to show people clearing rubble in Aleppo

A Syrian army rocket attack has killed at least 31 people in the city of Aleppo, eyewitnesses and activists say.

They say the rocket hit the rebel-held Jabal Badro district, destroying several buildings.

There are fears that more people may still be buried under the rubble.

The Syrian government has not commented on the claim. Some 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, the UN says.

Meanwhile, Syrian state media said that mortar shells exploded near one of the presidential palaces of Bashar al-Assad in the capital, Damascus.

No casualties were reported. It is not clear whether the president was in the Tishreen palace at the time.

Damascus-based activist Khaled al-Shami said the attack was "a clear message to the regime that nowhere is safe from now on".

"The fact that they had to announce it means they can no longer hide what is happening in Damascus," he told AP news agency via Skype.

In a separate development, the first of two Russian planes with humanitarian aid landed in the Syrian port of Latakia, Russia's Interfax news agency reports.

More than 46 tonnes of aid is being delivered from Moscow, including generators, tents and food.

The planes are expected to take back Russian citizens on the return flight, which would be the first direct evacuation.

'Bodies dug up'

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said "it is likely a surface-to-surface missile" had been fired at Jabal Badro late on Monday, according to the AFP news agency.

The UK-based group said 14 children and five women were among the victims.

The SOHR is one of the most prominent organisations documenting and reporting incidents and casualties in the Syrian conflict. The group says its reports are impartial, though its information cannot be independently verified.

Reuters news agency quoted an Aleppo resident as saying that the rocket strike "brought down three adjacent buildings in Jabal Badro".

"The bodies are being dug up gradually. Some, including children, have died in hospitals," resident Mohammad Nour said.

Aleppo, Syria's largest city, has been fought over to the point of stalemate since rebels launched an offensive there in July.

Last week, the rebels claimed to have taken two military bases near the airport.