'I saw children without heads': Syrian factory worker describes 'hell' of Aleppo bar
Man saw 'body parts everywhere' after attack on al-Fardous district of city
Surgeon: crudely fashioned bombs are 'most horrible and hurtful weapon'
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still totally denies they have been used
Accounts emerged in new Amnesty International report 'Death everywhere'
A Syrian factory worker has described the hellish aftermath of a barrel bomb attack in Aleppo in a shocking new report on the conflict.
Describing an attack on the al-Fardous district of Syria's second city, he said: 'I saw children without heads, body parts everywhere. It was how I imagine hell to be.'
A surgeon in Aleppo said the level of injuries he'd seen caused by barrel bombs was unprecedented. 'Barrel bombs are the most horrible and hurtful weapon … [We deal with] multi-trauma, so many amputations, intestines out of the body, it's too horrible,' he said.
The harrowing accounts emerged in a 62-page Amnesty International report, 'Death everywhere: War crimes and human rights abuses in Aleppo', including recollections from survivors of eight barrel bomb attacks.
Tell me why: A man cries out in pain at a site hit by what activists say was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Fardous district last month
Grieving: A family mourns the loss of their relatives in a suspected barrel bomb attack on Syria's second city
Destroyed: A man walks on debris in the aftermath of a likely barrel bomb attack as members of the civil defense use a front loader to remove rubble at a site in Aleppo
Running for his life: A man protects himself from the dust thrown up by a reported barrel bomb attack on Aleppo on May 1. A new Amnesty International report has highlighted the horrors of the crude weapons
The report paints a distressing picture of the devastation and bloodshed caused by barrel bombs - crudely fashioned weapons using oil barrels, fuel tanks or gas cylinders packed with explosives, fuel and metal fragments, which have been dropped by government force helicopter on schools, hospitals, mosques and crowded markets.
Many hospitals and schools have sought safety by moving into basements or underground bunkers in the fifth year of Syria's civil war, which now involves government forces, rebels groups including the Free Syrian Army, so-called Islamic State fighters and Kurdish groups.
'There is no sun, no fresh air, we can't go upstairs and there are always airplanes and helicopters in the sky,' said one doctor whose field hospital is among those forced underground.
'We are always nervous, always worried, always looking to the sky,' a teacher from Aleppo added.
Another resident described Aleppo as 'the circle of hell': 'The streets are filled with blood. The people who have been killed are not the people who were fighting.'
Barrel bombs killed more than 3,000 civilians in Aleppo governorate alone last year, and more than 11,000 in Syria since 2012. Last month local activists recorded at least 85 barrel bomb attacks in Aleppo city, killing at least 110 civilians.
Yet the Syrian government has failed to acknowledge a single civilian casualty caused by such attacks, with President Bashar al-Assad categorically denying that barrel bombs had ever been used by his forces in a BBC interview in February.
Ruined: Residents of Aleppo inspect the site of what was likely a barrel bomb attack by Syrian government forces. They have been described as 'the most horrible and hurtful weapon'
Waste of life: A civil defense member carries the body of a dead child from the ruins of a house in Aleppo (left) and a man carries a surviving youngster away from the devastation in the same city (right)
Pain: A mother and son mourn the loss of relatives in what was most likely a barrel bomb attack in Aleppo
Beyond repair: Bombed buildings in al-Fardous, Aleppo. Many hospitals and schools have sought safety by moving into basements or underground bunkers
One barrel bomb attack struck a crowded market in the Sukkari district while 150 people were waiting in a queue to receive food baskets from a humanitarian distribution point nearby.
An eyewitness described the aftermath of the attack as 'pure horror', saying the bomb had targeted civilians: 'There was the man who ran the ice-cream shop, the man who ran the sandwich shop, the man who ran the toy store ... They were all killed.'
Armed opposition groups in Aleppo also committed war crimes by using imprecise weapons such as mortars and improvised rockets fitted with gas canisters called 'hell cannons' in attacks that killed at least 600 civilians in 2014.
FOUR YEARS OF PAIN AND SUFFERING - TIMELINE OF SYRIA'S CIVIL WAR
March - Violent unrest spreads nationwide after protesters demanding the release of political prisoners are shot dead by security forces in the southern city of Deraa. President Assad releases dozens of political prisoners and lifts a nearly 50-year-old state of emergency in an attempt at conciliation.
May - In an effort to crush anti-regime protests, army tanks enter Deraa, Banyas, Homs and suburbs of Damascus. US and European Union tighten sanctions on Syria.
June - Government troops besiege the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour in pursuit of 'armed gangs' and more than 10,000 people flee to Turkey. President Assad pledges to start a 'national dialogue' on reform.
July - President Assad sacks the governor of the northern province of Hama after a mass demonstration there. Troops are sent in scores of people die.
December - The first of a series of fatal blasts in the capital Damascus kills 44 outside security buildings when two suicide bombers detonate their vests.
Destruction: Battle rages in Homs in July 2012. In May 2014 the last rebels evacuated the city, marking the end of three years of resistance
February - Government forces step up the bombardment of Homs and other cities.
May - The killing of more than 100 civilians at Houla, near Homs, prompts France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada and Australia to expel senior Syrian diplomats in protest.
July - The Free Syrian Army seizes Aleppo and blows up three security chiefs in Damascus.
August - US President Obama warns that use of chemical weapons would tilt the US towards intervention while Prime Minister Riad Hijab defects
October - Fire in Aleppo destroys much of the historic market as fighting and bomb attacks continue in various cities.
On the march: Islamic State fighters parade through the northern city of Raqqa. It fell to the militants at the end of summer 2014
January - More than $1.5bn (£950m) is pledged by help civilian victims of the conflict.
March - The US and Britain pledge non-military aid to rebel forces. The northern city of Raqqa is bombed by government warplanes after it is seized by rebels
June - Government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies forces recapture the strategically-important town of Qusair between Homs and the Lebanese border.
September - An attack on the Ghouta area of Damascus did involved chemical weapons according to the UN, but it did not explicitly say who was responsible for the death of 300 people.
October - President Assad allows international inspectors to begin destroying Syria's chemical weapons on the basis of a US-Russian agreement.
December - US and Britain suspend 'non-lethal' support for rebels in northern Syria after reports Islamist rebels seize some bases of Western-backed Free Syrian Army.
Denial: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed no barrel bombs had ever been used by his forces in this BBC interview in February
January-February - UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva fail, largely because Syrian authorities refuse to discuss a transitional government.
March - Syrian Army and Hezbollah forces recapture Yabroud, the last rebel stronghold near the Lebanese border.
May - Hundreds of rebels are evacuated from their last stronghold in the central city of Homs. The withdrawal marks the end of three years of resistance in the city.
June - The UN announces the removal of Syria's chemical weapons material complete. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants declare a 'caliphate' in territory from Aleppo to the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala.
August - Tabqa airbase, near the northern city of Raqqa, falls to Islamic State militants, who now control the whole of Raqqa province.
September - United States and five Arab countries launch air strikes against Islamic State around Aleppo and Raqqa.
January - Kurdish forces push Islamic State out of Kobane on the Turkish border after four months of fighting.
March - Opposition offensives push back government forces.
April-May - Barrel bomb attacks by government forces continue on rebel-held parts of Aleppo such as al-Fardous.
Residents said attacks by armed opposition groups are often 'completely random'. 'You never feel secure or safe, ever. You never know - you could be hit at any time,' said one resident of al-Jamaliya neighbourhood.
The report also documents widespread torture, arbitrary detention and abduction by both government forces and armed opposition groups.
One former detainee, a peaceful activist arrested by government forces in 2012 for videoing a protest, described being forced into a car tyre, beaten with cables that cut into his skin and listening to the screams of others being tortured at night.
'Around 5 to 6am you could hear only the women scream. At 7am, the women stopped, and then you heard the men. The screaming was scheduled,' he said.
He was held at Aleppo Central Prison which was shelled by both sides and where hundreds of prisoners were starved and some were summarily executed.
Murdered: Rescue workers and civilians carry the body of a man out of a bombed building in the central al-Fardous rebel held neighbourhood of Aleppo
Safe for now: A man carries two children away from a bomb site in Aleppo. Barrel bombs killed more than 3,000 civilians in Aleppo governorate alone last year
Meanwhile, a man held by an armed opposition group in Aleppo described having been severely beaten, given electric shocks and hung from his wrists before eventually being released.
In addition to enduring brutal attacks from both sides, the people of Aleppo are living in dire conditions and struggle to obtain the most basic supplies including food, medicine, water and electricity.
In opposition-held areas food is extremely expensive and residents have resorted to planting their own vegetables as well as rearing rabbits and cats which have become the 'fast food in Aleppo', according to one resident.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said: 'The fear and desperation among Aleppo's civilians is clear. Many feel abandoned and have lost all hope for the future.
'More than a year ago the UN passed a resolution calling for an end to human rights abuses, and specifically barrel bomb attacks, promising there would be consequences if the government failed to comply.
'Today, the international community has turned its back on Aleppo's civilians in a cold-hearted display of indifference to an escalating human tragedy.
'Continued inaction is being interpreted by perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a sign they can continue to hold the civilians of Aleppo hostage without fear of any retribution.
'A referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court would send a signal that those ordering and committing these crimes can be brought to justice and could help stem the spiral of abuses.'