A drone attack laden with explosives targeted a graduation ceremony attended by cadets’ families in Syria, resulting in numerous casualties, including women and children. The army attributed the attack to “terrorist groups backed by known international forces.” There has been no immediate claim from the rebels and jihadists engaged in the country’s civil war.
The drone assault is believed to have been launched from opposition-held areas northwest of Homs. Subsequently, the White Helmets, first responders, reported that government artillery and missile strikes had killed five civilians in several cities, towns, and villages in the opposition stronghold of Idlib province.
Syria’s state news agency, Sana, quoted a statement from the General Command of the Armed Forces, describing the drone attack as an “unprecedented criminal act” and vowing to respond with “full force and determination” to the perpetrators, wherever they may be.
The attack at the Homs military academy occurred just after the afternoon graduation ceremony had ended. The statement from the General Command of the Armed Forces said that more than 200 people were injured, and among the deceased were six women and six children.
A man who had helped set up decorations at the site reported, “After the ceremony, people went down to the courtyard, and the explosives hit. We don’t know where it came from, and corpses littered the ground.”
Graphic video footage captured the aftermath of the attack, showing numerous casualties, with relatives desperately calling for help inside a large, walled parade ground, accompanied by the sound of gunfire in the background.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) revealed that Syria’s defense minister attended the graduation ceremony but left minutes before the attack.
The Syrian civil war, which began in 2011 after President Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations, has resulted in the deaths of over half a million people. Additionally, more than 6.8 million people are internally displaced, while another 6 million are refugees or asylum-seekers abroad.
The UN’s special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, denounced the attack on the academy as “horrific” and called on all parties involved in the conflict to exercise restraint and adhere to international law. He emphasized the urgent need for a political resolution to the ongoing crisis in Syria.
In a separate development in Syria, Turkish drone strikes in a Kurdish-controlled region of northeastern Syria killed at least 10 people. These strikes were prompted by a bomb attack in Ankara, claimed by Kurdish militants. The US military also reportedly shot down an armed Turkish drone operating near its troops in Syria.