Homs, 6 October 2023 (TDI): Syria is in mourning following a tragic drone attack at the Homs Military Academy, one of the deadliest incidents in over 12 years of civil war.
The strike targeted a graduation ceremony, claiming the lives of many and leaving scores injured.
Despite Syria’s Defense and Foreign Ministries attributing the attack to unspecified terrorist groups, no claims of responsibility have been made.
The attack occurred as Defense Minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas departed the scene, and it struck at the heart of the military academy where families had gathered to celebrate with the new officers.
Syria declared three days of mourning to honor the victims. Coffins draped in the Syrian flag were transported from the Homs Military Hospital, and a military band played somber music while troops paid their respects.
The bloodshed deeply saddened Defense Minister Abbas, who referred to it as “precious.”
The human toll of the attack is grim, with Syria’s health ministry reporting 89 fatalities, including 31 women and five children.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights placed the death toll even higher, exceeding 120 casualties.
In response to the attack, Syrian government forces conducted retaliatory shelling in rebel-held territories in Idlib and Aleppo provinces throughout the night and into the early morning.
This led to civilian casualties, with at least 12 reported deaths, according to the Syrian Observatory.
Fearing further violence, authorities canceled group Friday prayers, particularly concerned that mosques could become targets.
This drone strike marks an unprecedented use of this technology against Syrian government forces during the long-standing conflict, which began with anti-government protests in 2011 and has since evolved into a devastating civil war resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of displacements.
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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern over the drone attack and the subsequent shelling.
While Syria grapples with grief, the international community watches closely, awaiting further developments.
Syria has initiated three days of official mourning, commemorating those who lost their lives in this tragic incident.