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Syrian Military Launch Airstrike, Killing 21

An explosion following an air strike is seen in central Kobani, Nov. 9, 2014. Picture taken from the Turkish side of the Turkish-Syrian border.

A Britain-based watchdog group says Syria has launched an airstrike on a northern town, killing 21 people and wounding 100 more.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian military aircraft dropped barrel bombs Saturday on the northern city of al-Bab, a stronghold of Islamic State fighters, the jihadist group that has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Barrel bombs are unsophisticated, but deadly improvised weapons consisting of explosives packed into canisters or oil drums and topped off with fuel and metal shards. Without any guidance system, the bombs kill arbitrarily as they are rolled out of helicopters as the aircraft passes over presumed rebel positions.

Since the start of the U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State group in both Syria and Iraq, rebel commanders have warned that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would see the American intervention as permission to increase the ferocity of his own its offensive against opponents.

The Syrian Observatory is urging the United Nations to refer the Assad air offensive to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity.

Material for this report came from AFP, and Reuters.