Activists: Syrian missiles kill 23, including 8 kids

Syrian children search for their belongings at a school following airstrikes by Syrian government forces on December 22, 2013, in the northern Syrian city of Marea on the outskirts of Aleppo.


BEIRUT - Syrian activists say a surface-to-surface missile fired by the military has slammed into an impoverished residential area in a rebel-held town in the north, killing 23 people, including eight children.

A local activist who uses the name Abu al-Hassan said on Tuesday that the attack on the town of Marea took place overnight, while people were sleeping in their homes. He says that among the 23 killed was a family of 10 people, including eight children.

Al-Hassan says he wasn't aware of any fighting taking place in the area. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the attack on Marea.

Rights groups and local activists say Syrian military forces often indiscriminately strike rebel-held areas with projectiles that can't be targeted properly, overwhelmingly killing civilians.

The death toll in Syria's three-year conflict has climbed past 160,000, an activist group said Monday, a harrowing figure that reflects the relentless bloodletting in a civil war that appears no closer to being resolved.

The grim tally, however, only presents one facet of the tremendous suffering that Syrians have endured since the revolt against President Bashar Assad erupted in March 2011. The crisis has also uprooted some 6.5 million people from their homes, forced 2.7 million to flee the country, laid waste to cities and towns alike, and unleashed sectarian hatreds that have rippled across the region.