Death toll in Syria market air raid hits 61
Six women, five children and three police officers among dead, says observatory
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, ive children and three police oficers. The Observatory’s director, Rami Abdurrahman, said the rest were male civilians.
The Syrian Civil Defence search-andrescue volunteers, known as the White Helmets, told media they gave up hope of inding 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.
The Britain-based monitor said it was not clear whether the bombing raids had been carried out by Syrian government warplanes, or those of its ally Russia.
A photographer on th scene saw massive destruction at the scene on Monday, with rubble from damaged buildings covering the street and panicked civilians carrying away the wounded.
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 led from ighting 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 ind 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 trafic police station. Survivors found limbs in the rubble and bodies with heads crushed by the pressure of the blasts.
Shelves remain standing amidst the rubble following an air strike the previous day on the northern rebel-held Syrian town of Atareb on Tuesday.