Published — Monday 24 December 2012
Last update 25 December 2012 12:34 pm
BEIRUT: Dozens of people were killed and many more wounded in an airstrike that hit a Syrian bakery where a large crowd was queuing for bread yesterday, activists said.
If confirmed, it would be one of the deadliest air strikes of Syria’s civil war. “There is no way to really know yet how many people were killed. When I got there, I could see piles of bodies all over the ground. There were women and children,” said Samer Al-Hamawi, an activist in the town of Halfaya. “There are also dozens of wounded people.”
Rami Abdelrahman, of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also said the death toll was still very unclear: “From looking at the videos, I expect the death toll to be around or above 50, and not higher than 100. But for now I am keeping my estimate at dozens killed, until we have more information.”
Halfaya, in the central province of Hama, had been seized by rebels last week in a push to seize new territory in their 21-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad,
Another activist said residents picking through the bodies were still determining which were wounded and which were dead.
Hamawi, who spoke via Skype, uploaded a video of the scene that showed dozens of dust-coated bodies lined up near a pile of rubble beside a concrete building with blackened walls. Screams could be heard in the video as some men rushed to the scene on motorcycles and other residents limped away. Dozens of dead bodies could be seen. The authenticity of the video could not be immediately verified, as the government restricts access into Syria.
Activists said more than a thousand people had been lined up at the bakery in Halfaya. Shortages of fuel and flour have made bread production erratic across Syria, and bread lines are often hours long.
Activists say more than 44,000 people have been killed in the 21 months since the eruption of anti-Assad protests, inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere.