Drone attack kills at least 80 at Syrian military college

06.10.2023 09:37

Drone attack kills at least 80 at Syrian military college Drone attack kills at least 80 at Syrian military college

Drone strikes on a graduation ceremony at a Syrian military college killed at least 80 people and wounded 240 on Thursday, in an attack that the country’s government has blamed on 'terrorists'.

Women, children, and armed forces personnel were among those killed in Thursday’s attack, which occurred at a military academy in the Homs province. Syrian Health Minister Hassan al-Ghabash told state-run television that six women and six children were among the dead. The death toll is likely to rise, given the seriousness of many of the injuries, he added.

The country's Defense Minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas reportedly attended the graduation ceremony and had left the college just minutes before the attack. “After the ceremony, people went down to the courtyard, and the explosives hit,” an unidentified witness told Reuters. “We don’t know where it came from, and corpses littered the ground.” The agency estimated the death toll at more than 100.

President Bashar Assad’s administration condemned the drone strike, saying it was “backed by known international forces,” and vowed a strong response. “The general command of the army and armed forces considers this cowardly terrorist act an unprecedented criminal act and affirms that it will respond with full force and decisiveness to these terrorist organizations, wherever they are found,” the Syrian Defense Ministry said, adding that both the planners and the perpetrators of the attack would be held accountable. The Syrian Foreign Ministry emphasized that Damascus would not be deterred in its quest to “eradicate the scourge of terrorism and its sponsors.”

Syria has been embroiled in a civil war with armed insurgents backed by international forces since 2011. Assad’s regime has regained control of most of the country, thanks largely to the help of Russian and Iranian military assistance. Thursday’s attack, deep into government-held territory, marked one of the deadliest strikes yet against a Syrian military installation.

Government forces reportedly carried out heavy bombing on opposition-controlled areas of Idlib province following the drone attack. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed “deep concern” about the drone strike and the retaliatory shelling, according to his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric. He called for a nationwide cease-fire.