Res­cue work­ers search for vic­tims


BEIRUT — Syr­ian res­cue work­ers on Tues­day con­tin­ued their search for vic­tims still un­der the rub­ble a day af­ter airstrikes hit a busy mar­ket in a rebel-held town in the coun­try’s north, killing at least 61 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to a mon­i­tor­ing group and res­cuers.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights, there were at least three airstrikes on the mar­ket in the town of Atareb on Mon­day — those killed in­cluded six women, five chil­dren and three po­lice of­fi­cers. The Ob­ser­va­tory’s di­rec­tor, Rami Ab­dur­rah­man, said the rest were male civil­ians.

The Syr­ian Civil De­fence searc­hand-res­cue vol­un­teers, known as the White Hel­mets, said they gave up hope of find­ing more sur­vivors af­ter dawn, though re­cov­ery ef­forts con­tin­ued. They said the death toll had climbed to at least 61 on Tues­day; 90 peo­ple were in­jured.

Atareb and the coun­try­side around it re­main out­side the con­trol of the gov­ern­ment in Da­m­as­cus. Gov­ern­ment forces re­took the nearby city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, fol­low­ing a fe­ro­cious as­sault on the rebel-held neigh­bour­hoods there in 2015.

The town pop­u­la­tion swelled with the ar­rival of Syr­i­ans who fled from fight­ing else­where in the coun­try’s north. Atarab’s mar­ket drew not just the towns­peo­ple but also shop­pers from the coun­try­side and nearby vil­lages.

“You can see the body frag­ments in the rub­ble,” said Yasser Hmeish, a med­i­cal tech­ni­cian at the scene. “This morn­ing I saw civil­ians and res­cue work­ers try­ing to lift the ce­ment chunks to find the miss­ing.”

“There were restau­rants, mo­bile phone shops, butch­ers: It was a mar­ket in the full sense of the word,” Hmeish added. “It’s been com­pletely de­stroyed.” Videos from the scene show a to­tally col­lapsed build­ing amid other smaller build­ings, and res­cuers step­ping over the rub­ble to get to the ar­eas where they pull out sur­vivors.

The airstrikes ripped through the mar­ket, crushed build­ings and dam­aged an ad­ja­cent traf­fic po­lice sta­tion.

The Ob­ser­va­tory said it couldn’t de­ter­mine whether Rus­sia or the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment was be­hind the at­tack. The op­po­si­tion Syr­ian Na­tional Coali­tion ac­cused Rus­sia, Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s chief mil­i­tary backer.


A Syr­ian man car­ries a child fol­low­ing an airstrike on the rebel-held town of Atareb in Syria’s north­ern Aleppo prov­ince on Mon­day.

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