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In new round of air raids, Syrian government planes pound Aleppo, killing at least 15

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BEIRUT - A new round of Syrian government air raids on rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo killed at least 15 people on Tuesday, including three children, activists said.

The strikes extended the furious aerial assault by President Bashar Assad's warplanes and helicopters on the embattled city into its tenth day. Activists say more than 360 people were killed in the first nine days of the campaign, which began Dec. 15.

Tuesday's airstrikes hit the rebel-held Sukkari neighbourhood of Aleppo, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, which said at least 15 were killed.

Another activist group, the Aleppo Media Center, said at least 33 people were killed and 150 were wounded. Disparate death tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of such attacks.

The Aleppo Media Center said the strikes were carried out by jets and helicopters, and hit at least three sites, causing extensive damage, toppling apartment buildings and setting houses and cars ablaze.

The soaring death toll and massive damage caused by the aerial campaign prompted the U.S. and Britain on Monday to both condemn the assault on Aleppo.

The main Western-backed Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, also threatened Monday that if the bombing campaign against Aleppo continues, it will not take part in U.N.-sponsored peace talks planned for Jan. 22 in Switzerland.

The U.S. and Russian-brokered talks aim to find a political solution to Syria's conflict, which has killed more than 120,000 people since it began in March 2011.

In Damascus, mortar rounds slammed into the Zablatani neighbourhood, killing four people and wounding 20, the state news agency said. Mortar shells believed to be fired by rebels frequently land in central Damascus, causing casualties and damaging buildings.

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