Government airstrike kills 60 in Syria
Attack appears to be government response to new rebel offensive.
A government attack on a bakery in a rebel-held town in central Syria leaves bodies and debris scattered and casts a pall over talks to end the nation’s civil war.
A government airstrike on a bakery in a rebel-held town in central Syria killed more than 60 people on Sunday, casting a pall over a visit by the international envoy charged with negotiating an end to the country’s civil war.
The strike on the town of Halfaya left bodies and debris scattered up and down a street, and more than a dozen dead and wounded were trapped in tangled heap of dirt and rubble.
The attack appeared to be the government response to a newly announced rebel offensive seeking to drive the Syrian army from a constellation of towns and village north of the central city of Hama. Halfaya was the first of the area’s towns to be “liberated” by rebel fighters, and activists saw Sunday’s attack as payback.
“Halfaya was the first and biggest victory in the Hama countryside,” said Hama activist Mousab Alhamadee via Skype. “That’s why the regime is punishing them in this way.”
The total death toll remained unclear, but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 60 people were killed. That number is expected to rise, it said, because some 50 of those wounded in the strike are in critical condition.
Amateur videos posted online Sunday showed residents and armed rebels rushing to the scene. More than a dozen dead or seriously wounded people lay in the street near a concrete building, and ear its front wall, bodies lay tangled amid a pile of dirt and rubble on a sidewalk.
Rebels screamed in distress while trying to extract the bodies.
It was unclear from the videos if the building was indeed a bakery. Nearly all the dead and wounded appeared to be men, some wore camouflage, raising the possibility that the jet had targeted a rebel gathering.