Ballistic missiles launched by the Syrian government have been hitting major population centers, killing a significant number of people with no combat role in the country's civil war, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
What appear to have been nine ballistic missile attacks occurred between February and July, killing no fewer than 100 children and 115 others, the watchdog group said.
Of the alleged attacks investigated by Human Rights Watch, seven had no obvious military targets within the immediate area, according to the group. The two instances in which missiles purportedly landed near rebel military assets did not result in damage to those possible objectives.
Casualties from the incidents appeared to be primarily -- if not completely -- civilian, Human Rights Watch said, noting that the affected sites seemed to be of little armed forces significance. There was a large number of child fatalities, according to the organization. The group said it could not verify local claims that only noncombatants had died in the purported assaults.
In February, Syrian officials denied the use of Scud missiles in attacks said to have killed at least 141 people in Aleppo. Human Rights Watch investigators determined there were no opposition forces or strategic installations in the areas hit in those attacks, and that the level of damage and lack of reported aircraft around the time of the attacks were consistent with the use of ballistic missiles.