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Syria’s latest assault on city kills 20

AMMAN, Jordan — At least 20 people were killed Wednesday in Aleppo when a residential building was hit by a rocket from a warplane as the government’s daily bombardment of the northern Syrian city continued, activists said.

More than 500 people have been killed across Aleppo province in two weeks of a fierce government offensive with rockets and destructive barrel bombs, doctors and human rights groups reported.

World leaders have called for an end to the attacks, which have put into question the upcoming Geneva II peace conference.

The main political opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has said it will boycott the talks if the bombing does not end.

“You can’t imagine these tools of death,” said Khalid Omar, a member of the Union of Free Medicine in Aleppo.

Syrian forces launched mortar shells Wednesday at a border village in neighboring Lebanon and wounded 10 Syrian refugees, one critically, Lebanese state media reported.

Abu Hamzeh, a rebel fighter in nearby Arsal, said the mortar rounds struck two cars carrying refugees, killing a woman and her child.

On Monday, the Lebanese army fired on Syrian government aircraft that officials said had launched missiles at the same border village, Khirbet Daoud. It marked the first military response by Lebanon to occasional Syrian shelling and attacks.

Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town in a mostly Shiite Muslim area, hosts thousands of Syrian refugees, who continue to stream across the border, and has come under attack before.

Now approaching the end of its third year, the conflict in Syria has claimed more than 130,000 lives, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, reported this week.

As the violence on the ground continued, the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad missed the end-of-year deadline for relinquishing its chemical weapons, a result of clashes, inclement weather and logistical issues.

The Tuesday deadline was to have been the first milestone in an agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal by midyear.

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons stockpiles after widespread condemnation of a sarin gas attack Aug. 21 that the U.S. says was carried out by government forces on rebel-held areas outside Damascus.

Assad denies involvement in the attack, which reportedly killed hundreds of people and brought the U.S. to the brink of launching airstrikes against Syrian forces.

Norwegian and Danish navy ships had left Cyprus early this week for the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, where Damascus had promised to deliver part of its chemical weapons stockpile Tuesday to be transported for destruction. By noon Monday, they had returned to Cyprus.

Nevertheless, the United Nations’ disarmament body lauded the progress that had been made, while calling on all parties to “intensify efforts.”

Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator for the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, remained optimistic, saying that “continued solid progress has been achieved” and that “failure is not an option, success is within reach.”

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