Reports are filtering in, but it appears that the Syrian air force carried out an airstrike against a gas station in Northern Syria, and at least 30 and perhaps 100 or more people were killed. That follows reports from the Syrian media a Syrian helicopter apparently clipping an airliner flying into Damascus with 200 people on board. The plane landed safely, but the helicopter crashed.
One activist near the scene of the attack said bombs struck a gas station in the town of Ayn Issa, near a border post that Syrian opposition fighters had captured two days ago. The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, a group based in Britain with a network of contacts in Syria, said that 110 people were either killed or wounded.The circumstances surrounding both incidents are still from certain, and Assad's official propagandists are offering a different version of events from those of the rebel forces. The rebels claim that they shot down the helicopter, while Assad's propagandists claim it clipped a passenger plane. I find the latter to be unlikely, and if there were proof that there was a collision that it would be proffered.
If verified, the bombing would be one of the worst casualty tolls from the Syrian military’s use of aircraft in its effort to crush the armed insurgency.
Also on Thursday, Syrian officials said that a helicopter had crashed near the capital, Damascus, close to a suburb where insurgents and government forces have battled for dominance.
The official Syrian news agency said the helicopter’s rotors had clipped the tail of a Syrian Arab airlines passenger jet with 200 people aboard. It said the jet had landed safely at the Damascus airport and no one had been injured. But an activist in Damascus said that a rebel battalion shot down the helicopter, which crashed near a salt factory near the town of Douma.
The Syrian civil continues dragging on, and more than 18 months after it began, more than 22,000 have been killed across the country. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and refugees have spilled over into Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Bashar al-Assad's responsible for the slaughter and the mayhem that has swept the country, but he continues to fight to maintain his grip on power. However, significant portions of the country have fallen into rebel hands and the fighting has centered on those areas where rebels have maintained control. Fighting continues in Aleppo and Damascus, as well as along border posts with Turkey that have been alternatively captured by rebel forces and Assad's loyalists.
Labels: Bashar al-Assad, Civil War, human rights, Middle East, Syria, war crimes