In an interview with the BBC, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied his forces have used barrel bombs. "I know about the army, they use bullets, missiles, and bombs. I haven't heard of the army using barrels, or maybe, cooking pots," Assad said, apparently making light of the allegations.

Pressed again about their use, he replied: "They're called bombs.... There is no barrel bombs, we don't have barrels."

syria barrel bombs
7 September, 2013: A barrel reportedly dropped from a Syrian government aircraft lies on the ground in the Ariha countrysideHousam Abo Dabak/Reuters

The government's use of the crude explosive devices has been widely documented by international human rights organisations and residents of opposition-held areas in Syria.

Helicopters drop crude bombs — barrels packed with explosives, fuel and scraps of metal — on the city, causing immense damage and indiscriminate loss of life, according to activists. The helicopters drop the bombs from a great height so that they can stay out of reach of the rebels' surface-to-air missiles, making the targeting less accurate.

syria barrel bombs
1 February, 2014: A Syrian government helicopter drops what activists say is an explosive barrel, over the Al-Shaar area of AleppoMohamed Mounzer Masri/Reuters
syria barrel bombs
27 March, 2014: A man looks down at an unexploded barrel bomb reportedly dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at a cemetery in the al-Qatanah neighbourhood of AleppoMahmoud Hebbo/Reuters

In the BBC interview, Jeremy Bowen said that Human Rights Watch has stated that forces loyal to Bashar Assad "have deliberately and viciously attacked civilians in opposition-held areas using indiscriminate weapons, notoriously barrel bombs".

To that, Assad replied: "This is a childish story they keep repeating in the West."

syria barrel bombs
27 September, 2014: A Syrian rescue worker carries the body of a child following a reported Syrian government forces barrel bomb attack in AleppoKhaled Khatib/AFP
syria barrel bombs
6 April, 2014: Men rescue a boy from under the rubble after explosive barrels were reportedly dropped on the Al-Shaar neighbourhood of AleppoHosam Katan/Reuters
syria barrel bombs
6 April, 2014: People rescue children from a site damaged by what activists said were explosive barrels dropped by Assad's forces in the Al-Shaar neighbourhood of AleppoReuters
syria barrel bombs
6 March, 2014: A survivor sits on the rubble of collapsed buildings at a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Sakhour districtHosam Katan/Reuters
syria barrel bombs
11 August, 2014: Syrian civil defence workers rescue a man from under the rubble of a building following a reported barrel-bomb attack by Syrian government forces on the Bab al-Neirab neighbourhood of AleppoZein al-Rifai/AFP
syria barrel bombs
27 July, 2014: Civil defence members look for survivors at a site hit by what activists said were two barrel bombs in the Al-Shaar neighbourhood of AleppoHamid Khatib/Reuters
syria barrel bombs
25 July, 2014: Syrian civil defence workers rescue a man from under the rubble after a Syrian government helicopter allegedly dropped a barrel bomb on the Sakhour neighbourhood of AleppoZein al-Rifai/AFP
syria barrel bombs
6 November, 2014: A rebel fighter runs through dust towards an area damaged by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by warplanes loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Shaar neighbourhoodRami Zayat/Reuters
syria barrel bombs
16 June, 2014: A man is rescued from under the rubble after Syrian regime helicopters allegedly dropped barrel bombs on the Sukkari neighbourhood of Aleppo, killing at least 20 people, including several children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human RightsKhaled Khatib/AFP
syria barrel bombs
26 May, 2014: Emergency teams extinguish a fire following a reported barrel bomb attack on the northern Syrian city of AleppoKaram al-Masri/AFP