AZAZ: A Syrian air raid killed 30 people in the rebel-held northern border town of Azaz yesterday, a local doctor said, and a bomb went off near UN and military sites in Damascus, wounding three.

In Azaz, Mohammad Lakhini said scores of people were wounded in the airstrike. It reduced several houses in the town to rubble, and dozens of men clawed through the debris looking for survivors.

As the violence intensified, UN human rights investigators accused forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of committing war crimes. They said rebels had also committed war crimes, but the violations “did not reach the gravity, frequency and scale” of those by state forces.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens had been killed.

Video footage showed crowds of residents wrestling with steel bars and pulling away a giant slab of concrete to reveal the arm of a child. “This is a real catastrophe,” said an activist.

Seven Lebanese hostages being held in Azaz were also wounded, with four others still missing, a rebel commander said.

Assad’s forces have increasingly used helicopter gunships and warplanes against the lightly armed insurgents.

In Damascus, a bomb exploded in the car park of a hotel used by UN monitors. No UN staff were hurt. The bomb set a fuel tanker ablaze. State media said three people were wounded in the bombing, and several rebels were killed or captured in a separate gunbattle with security forces in the western district of Mezze.

The Descendants of the Prophet Brigade and the al-Habib al-Mustafa Brigade said on Facebook that they were jointly responsible for the bombing.

Opposition sources say 18 000 people have been killed in the uprising since March last year. – Reuters