At least 9 dead, dozens injured in attacks against Kurdish quarter in Aleppo

AMMAN (Reuters) - At least nine civilians were killed and dozens were wounded on Sunday when mortars and rockets were fired by insurgents on a mainly Kurdish residential quarter in the northern city of Aleppo, the Syrian Kurdish YPG group and a monitor said on Sunday.

Spokesperson Redur Xelil, an official from the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), said the attacks on the Sheikh Maqsoud quarter of the city killed nine civilians, including four children, two women and three men.

Earlier state run Ikhbariya television station said in a news flash 14 were dead and at least 40 injured when mortars were fired by what it described as “terrorists” in rebel-held parts of Aleppo hit Sheikh Maqsoud.

SANA state news agency said the damage to property was extensive.

The residential area has been a major frontline in Aleppo for weeks, with heavy clashes between the Syrian Kurdish YPG militias and rebels in control of large parts of the eastern portion of the divided city.

The YPG denies it is coordinating with the Syrian army.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in Syria, also said the attack was among the biggest by rebels in the area that also adjoins state run parts of Aleppo.

At least one hundred rockets were fired by al-Qaeda’s Syrian offshoot Nusra Front and hardline Islamist insurgent groups on residential areas in the quarter, the Observatory said.

Heavy fighting flared in Ashrafiyah and in the Sakan al Shabibi neighbourhoods where Kurdish fighters sought to advance in rebel-held areas with no signs that a truce agreed by international parties was holding in that area.

Kurdish YPG fighters have been trying to take advantage of the preoccupation of insurgents with fending off a Syrian ground offensive to disrupt traffic on the main highway that Sheikh Maqsoud overlooks used by passengers and rebels to get into the opposition held areas of the city.

The permanent closure of the main Castello highway by Kurdish sniper fire would cut supplies of food to hundreds of thousands of civilians and allow the Syrian army to fully encircle rebel-held parts of Aleppo.

Rapid advances by the Syrian army and its Iranian backed allies in the northern Aleppo countryside early last month allowed them to cut vital supplies lines by the insurgents into Aleppo from Turkey. The YPG also made advances in that area in the wake of the progress by the government forces.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Sandra Maler