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Syria: Over 100 killed, 277 wounded in one of deadliest attacks on Syrian military academy in Homs

Syrian government forces vowed to respond with "full force" to the attack. They blamed insurgents “backed by known international forces”behind the deadly drone strike.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Damascus Updated on: October 06, 2023 16:10 IST
Syrians mourn victims of the drone attack that killed over
Image Source : AP Syrians mourn victims of the drone attack that killed over 100 people in Homs.

More than 100 people have been killed and 277 others injured following a bomb attack used with the help of weaponised drones at a Syrian military academy shortly after a graduation ceremony attended by the country's defence minister.

It is one of the deadliest attacks at an army facility in the civil war-torn country, and unprecedented in its use of weaponised drones. According to the Guardian, civilians and military personnel were killed in the attack on the central province of Homs for which the defence ministry has blamed "terrorist groups". Drones laden with explosives were used in the attack, said the military.

Although exact figures are unknown, BBC reported that the death toll currently stands at 116. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Syria’s defence and foreign ministries vowed to respond “with full force” to the deadly attack. Following the attack, social media users shared disturbing visuals of severely wounded people and dead bodies.

Government forces have also carried out heavy bombing attacks on the opposition-held zone of Idlib throughout the day. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), reported that 11 civilians had been killed in government bombardments on several cities, towns and villages in the opposition stronghold.

Health Minister Hassan al-Ghabash said that civilians, including six children, and military personnel were among those killed. There are concerns the death toll could rise further as many of the wounded were in serious condition. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed "deep concern" about the Homs drone strike and "reports of retaliatory shelling" in northwest Syria. 

Syria's state television said the government announced a three-day state of mourning that will start on Friday. Fearing retaliation from the government, religious authorities in areas held by the opposition in northern Syria said Friday prayers will not be held in mosques and called on people to pray at home instead “out of concern for the safety of Muslims".

Hundreds of people dressed in black gathered in Homs outside the Abdul-Qader Shaqfa Military Hospital where the bodies of victims in coffins draped with Syrian flags were put in ambulances to be taken to their hometowns for burial.


The civil war in Syria

After President Bashar al-Assad's government came into power in 2011, Syria has been embroiled in conflict between rebel groups and government forces following Assad's brutal crackdown on protesters. So far, the war has killed half a million people, wounded hundreds of thousands and left many parts of the country destroyed.

The war has displaced half of Syria's prewar population of 23 million, including more than 5 million who are refugees outside the divided country. The northwest enclave of Syria remains under the control of al-Qaida-linked militants from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group and Turkish-backed opposition fighters. The country's northeast is under the control of US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The majority of around 4.1 million people residing in Syria's northwestern enclave controlled by al-Qaeda live in severely impoverished conditions, relying on humanitarian aid to survive. Many of them are Syrians, internally displaced by the war from other parts of the country.

Other altercations on Thursday

Meanwhile, local authorities in northeastern Syria, which is under US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said that Turkish drone attacks struck in Hassakeh and Qamishli provinces on Thursday, hitting oil production facilities, electrical substations and a dam.

A US F-16 fighter jet also shot down an armed Turkish drone that was operating near American troops in Syria, according to US officials on Thursday. The drone was shot down after repeated communications to stay away from US ground troops near Al Hasakah in northeastern Syria. This is believed to be the first time the US has shot down a drone from Turkey, a NATO ally.

The Kurdish forces were a major ally of the United States in the latter's so-called 'war against terrorism', contributing to the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria in 2019.

(with agency input)

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