Middle EastWar

Syria Shelling Toll After Homs Attack Reaches 41 Civilians

Six Syrians were killed by regime shelling on Sunday, taking the number of civilian victims in four days of reprisal attacks on rebel areas to 41, a war monitor said.

Twenty children are among the dead in the shelling, which came in apparent retaliation for a drone attack on a military academy graduation ceremony in Homs on Thursday that killed dozens of military personnel and civilians.

The Syrian army had vowed to “respond with full force” to the attack in Homs, and since Thursday has been bombarding the last rebel stronghold in the northwest of the country.

Three children were among Sunday’s civilian victims of artillery fire, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The other three killed were two women and a man who had been trying to help the wounded, the monitor said.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, said two fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group (HTS), led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syria branch, have also been killed in the shelling since Thursday.

Also on Sunday, the monitor reported one Syrian soldier killed in the south of Idlib province, taking to three the number of regime soldiers killed by HTS since Thursday.

In government-held areas, five civilians were killed by shells fired by the group which partly controls the last pocket of armed opposition in the northwest, home to three million people.

The attack on the military academy in Homs was one of the bloodiest to hit government forces since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011.

State media said it killed 89 people, including 31 women and five children, and wounded 277.

The Observatory reported a higher toll of 123 dead, including 54 civilians, of whom 39 were children, and 150 wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Homs attack, but the Syrian army accused “armed terrorist organizations” using drones.

HTS is considered a terrorist group by Damascus, as well as by the United States and United Nations.

The Observatory also reported Sunday that Russian warplanes launched air strikes northeast of the Latakia area. It said one child was killed in a Russian raid in the Idlib area on Friday.

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