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 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 5:19 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What caught our experts' ears was as much about what he didn't address as much as what he did.
updated 6:19 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
The three-year war in Syria has claimed 162,402 lives, an opposition group said Monday, as the raging conflict shows no signs of abating.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Official: The U.S. believes a jihadi featured in a suicide bombing video in Syria is Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha who grew up in Florida.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
For the first time, Britain has convicted someone of a terrorism offense related to the Syrian civil war.