Syria: 40 Dead in Airstrikes on Marketplace

Airstrikes on a marketplace kill at least 40 civilians, as Syrian forces step up attacks on rebel-held town of Darkush.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Syrian rebels prepare to launch an anti-tank missile (file)
Syrian rebels prepare to launch an anti-tank missile (file)

Airstrikes on a marketplace in Syria on Sunday killed at least 40 civilians, including women and children, as Syrian forces stepped up attacks on rebels a day after losing a key border town, AFP reported.

There were fears the death toll would mount from the bombing raids on Darkush, a rebel-held town near the Turkish frontier, which also wounded dozens of people, a monitoring group said.

The attacks came after rebel groups including Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate overran the nearby town of Jisr al-Shughur on Saturday, tightening their grip on the northwestern province of Idlib less than a month after capturing its capital.

"At least 40 civilians were killed in regime airstrikes on a market in the town of Darkush. Among the dead were nine women and eight children," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Jisr al-Shughur was one of the regime's last remaining strongholds in the northwestern province, and its fall has left government-held territory elsewhere in neighboring Latakia and Hama provinces open to new attack.

Overnight and on Sunday, government warplanes pounded Jisr al-Shughur with several dozen air strikes as fighting raged on the ground south of the city, the Britain-based Observatory told AFP.

"At least two civilians and 20 fighters were killed in the Saturday airstrikes along with five others whose identities are not yet known," Abdel Rahman told the news agency.

"The toll is expected to rise after the bombing continued overnight and into Sunday," he added.

The clashes in the south of Jisr al-Shughur came after government forces launched a failed bid to rescue at least 40 soldiers loyal to the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.

State television said government forces had attacked an area by the southern entrance to the town, "killing a group of terrorists", but made no mention of any captured soldiers.

State media said government troops had redeployed outside Jisr al-Shughur to "avoid casualties among innocent civilians".

"Army units carried out night raids against a number of military positions infiltrated by armed terrorist groups in the area surrounding Jisr al-Shughur," the official SANA news agency reported.

It charged that "terrorist groups carried out a horrific massacre of more than 30 civilians, mostly women and children, after entering Jisr al-Shughur".

But it gave no further details of the alleged killings, and the Observatory said it had received no reports of any massacre of civilians.

More than 220,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests that escalated into an armed rebellion.