Skip to main content

Kerry: Fresh barrel bomb attack shows Syrian regime's 'true colors'

By Saad Abedine, CNN
updated 9:52 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
  • Barrel bombs are drums packed with explosives and shrapnel
  • 26 people were killed Monday; 126 over the weekend
  • "Oh God, we've had enough," one man sobbed
  • Kerry says al-Assad has strengthened his hand, but he's "still not winning"

(CNN) -- At least 15 boys were killed when Syrian forces dropped a barrel bomb on a mosque operating as a makeshift school in Aleppo, the opposition Syrian Coalition said Wednesday.

Barrel bombs are drums packed with explosives and shrapnel, which are then dropped from the sky.

Tuesday's attack is the second barrel bomb raid in two days in the northern Syrian city, which has become a flashpoint of the country's civil war.

"Each and every day that the barrel-bombing of Aleppo continues, the Assad regime reminds the world of its true colors," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement after the attack.

"Each and every barrel bomb filled with metal shrapnel and fuel launched against innocent Syrians underscores the barbarity of a regime that has turned its country into a super magnet for terror."

Later, Kerry defended U.S. policy toward Syria in an exclusive interview on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

However, he did not dispute entirely a U.S. intelligence assessment that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has regained some footing since agreeing to turn over chemical weapons to the international community to avoid possible military action against his regime.

"It's fair to say that Assad has improved his position a little bit, yes," Kerry said. "But he's still not winning. This is a stalemate."

Barrel bomb toll

Syrian disarmament continues to languish
Threats from Syria hitting the U.S.?
Al Qaeda 'disowns' affiliate, 'a PR move'

On Monday, 26 people were killed, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. And over the weekend, barrel bombs killed 126 people there.

"The mosque was being used as a school after all schools in the area were either hit or brimming with internally displaced civilians," Khalid Saleh of the Syrian Coalition said about Tuesday's attack.

"Giving up on learning was not an option for these children, but the hatred of the Assad regime was blind enough to deprive them not only from their right to education but also from their right to live."

Opinion: A terror group too brutal for al Qaeda?

'Children, there are children'

Opposition groups have blamed the attacks on al-Assad. The Syrian government has previously said that military operations are targeting "terrorist groups" in neighborhoods of the city.

Videos posted online after the attack on the Othman Bin Affan mosque Tuesday showed angry residents, arms raised to the sky, cursing at al-Assad.

"Children, there are children," some shouted.

One man, standing in front of a child's body, sobbed, "Oh God, we've had enough."

"Why us," a child told an activist who filmed the aftermath of the attack. "We are not rebel fighters, we are children."

CNN cannot independently verify the death tolls or the authenticity of the videos.

The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since fighting began in 2011.

Report: Syria to ship toxic agents

90 killed in punishing air raids in Syria's Aleppo

Al Qaeda 'disowns' affiliate, blaming it for disaster in Syria

Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:28 AM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
Syria has submitted a revised proposal "that aims to complete the removal of all chemicals" from the country before the end of April.
updated 5:32 AM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
CNN's Arwa Damon reports on ISIS defector who says destroying ISIS as critical as defeating regime.
updated 10:53 PM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
The U.S. wants a United Nations resolution that will, among other things, bring humanitarian aid for refugees in Syria.
updated 7:59 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
When the radical Islamist militia ISIS arrived in the Syrian town of Addana a year ago, many welcomed them. What followed changed their minds.
updated 9:49 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
CNN obtained video clips from Syrian activists documenting the atrocities committed by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS.
updated 3:17 PM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
On Crossfire, Danielle Pletka discusses what the U.S. needs to do to resolve the Syria crisis.
updated 8:01 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Her almond-shaped brown eyes shine through her sunken face as a doctor lifts her sweater to reveal a tiny rib cage pushing against her skin.
updated 12:46 PM EST, Tue February 4, 2014
The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is home to around 100,000 Syrian refugees. CNN spent several days meeting the residents of the camp.
updated 2:59 PM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
Renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts have found "direct evidence" of "torture and killing" by the Assad regime.
Traumatized children who have witnessed the horrors of war are being helped to read -- and rebuild a normal life. CNN's Becky Anderson reports.
updated 7:07 AM EST, Thu January 23, 2014
A battle zone tour organized by the Syrian government for CNN and several other media outlets Wednesday was more than bizarre.
updated 12:35 PM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert meets with the family of a little girl who was wounded in Syria, now living in a refugee camp.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
110 year old, Jabari Alawali walked for over 10 hours to reach Jordan from Syria.