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Jets bomb Syrian town, killing civilians

AZAZ, Syria -- Syrian fighter jets swooped in low over the rebel-held town of Azaz in two bombing runs Wednesday that sent panicked civilians fleeing for cover and reduced homes to rubble.

Activists said more than 20 people were killed. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people died in the double airstrike and more than 200 were wounded. Neither figure could be independently confirmed. Reporters from The Associated Press saw nine dead bodies in the bombings' immediate aftermath, including a baby.

One man was pulled bloodied but alive from the wreckage of a house. "God is great! God is great!" yelled his rescuers as he emerged. Then they laid him in a blanket and carried him to a pickup truck.

Nearby, a woman sat on the pile of bricks that once was her home, cradling a dead baby. Two other bodies lay next to her, covered in blankets.

"I saw the plane come down and some missiles fall and then there was smoke all over," said Mohammed Fuad, 18, who lives near the site of the attacks. "When it cleared, we heard screaming and saw rubble all over the streets."

The attack came on the same day the UN released a report accusing President Bashar Assad's forces and their militia backers of war crimes in the killings in May of more than 100 civilians, nearly half children, in the village of Houla. It said the civil war was moving in a "brutal" direction on both sides.

About a dozen rebel fighters flocked to the scene, none armed with more than a Kalashnikov assault rifle. At one point, some men started screaming, sparking a panic that the jets were returning and sending the crowd dashing for cover. It was a false alarm, and all came back to look for more bodies.

The first jet appeared in the sky late in the day and dropped bombs, sending up a huge cloud of smoke. Terrified families tore through the streets. Soon after, a second jet swooped in, dropping another charge that shook downtown.

The blast damaged buildings far beyond the bombing sites.

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