United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, strongly condemned the death of at least 70 civilians in Syria's northern Aleppo province by barrel bombs dropped from government helicopters.
"The news of aerial bombing by Syrian helicopters on a civilian market area of the Aleppo neighborhood of Al Shaar deserves the most strong international condemnation," the Special Envoy said in a statement issued shortly after the attack.
According to news reports, at least 70 people were killed and many more wounded in the attack on al-Bab's busy market on Saturday morning after government helicopters dropped two barrel bombs in quick succession.
Many of the victims were blown to pieces or burnt beyond recognition by the blasts, which devastated the market, shops and vehicles.
"While it is true that, unfortunately, the UN proposed freeze of heavy bombing in Aleppo did not materialize, it is nevertheless totally unacceptable that the Syrian airforce attacks its own territory in an indiscriminate way, killing its own citizens, as it brutally happened today in Aleppo," Mr. de Mistura said.
"The use of barrel bombs must stop," he continued. "All evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of the civilian victims in the Syrian conflict have been caused by the use of such indiscriminate aerial weapons."
Mr. de Mistura stressed that the protection of civilians during armed conflicts is a cornerstone of international humanitarian law, and applies in all circumstances and without distinction.