A drone attack on a Syrian military academy in the western city of Homs has resulted in a reported death toll of at least 100 people, according to a monitoring group.
The explosive-laden drones targeted a graduation ceremony that was attended by cadets’ families, and among the casualties were women and children. The Syrian army has attributed the attack to “terrorist groups backed by known international forces.” However, there has been no immediate claim from the rebels and jihadists involved in the country’s ongoing civil war.
The drone attack is believed to have been launched from opposition-held areas northwest of Homs. Subsequently, first responders from the White Helmets reported that government artillery and missile strikes resulted in the deaths of five civilians in various locations in Idlib province, a stronghold of opposition forces.
Syria’s state news agency, Sana, quoted a statement from the General Command of the Armed Forces, which stated that several explosive-laden drones targeted the Homs military academy just after the afternoon graduation ceremony had concluded. The statement also affirmed that the armed forces would respond vigorously to these terrorist groups.
Health Minister Hassan al-Gabbash later reported that the strike had injured over 200 people and resulted in the deaths of six women and six children. An eyewitness described the aftermath, stating that after the ceremony, people gathered in the courtyard when the explosives struck, causing numerous casualties.
A graphic video of the attack’s aftermath depicted numerous casualties, with their relatives desperately seeking assistance inside a large, walled parade ground. The video also captured gunfire in the background.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Syria’s defense minister had attended the graduation ceremony but departed shortly before the attack.
The Syrian civil war, which began in 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad responded violently to peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations, has resulted in the deaths of over half a million people. Additionally, millions are internally displaced or have become refugees abroad.
Geir Pedersen, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, condemned the attack on the academy and urged all parties involved in the conflict to exercise restraint and abide by international law. He emphasized the need for a meaningful political resolution to the conflict, stating that the current situation in Syria is unsustainable and may lead to further deterioration in the security situation.
In a separate development in Syria, at least ten people were reportedly killed in Turkish drone strikes in a Kurdish-controlled region of northeastern Syria. These strikes were prompted by a bomb attack in Ankara that was claimed by Kurdish militants. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed, Kurdish-led militia alliance, and various facilities, including a power station, water station, and oil field, were among the 17 targeted sites, according to the SOHR.