Homs: A drone attack on military academy in Syria’s Homs province killed more than 100 and injured 240 during graduation ceremony.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said “112 dead including 21 civilians, 11 of them women and girls” and 125 injured.
Health Minister Hassan Al-Ghabash gave a lower figure, said strike killed 80 civilians, including six children, as well as military personnel, but that about 240 people had been injured.
There were concerns the death toll could rise as many of the wounded were in serious condition, Health Minister Hassan al-Ghabash added.
Syria’s defence minister attended the graduation ceremony but left minutes before the attack, the Reuters news agency reported.
Following Thursday's drone attack, Syrian government forces carried out heavy bombing attacks in the rebel-held Idlib region, residents reported heavy bombardment by government forces in apparent retaliation. The Observatory said eight people had been killed and some 30 wounded.
Overnight, Syrian shelling killed an elderly woman and four of her children in a rebel-held area of Aleppo province, rescue workers and the Observatory said.
Syria’s military said in an earlier statement that drones laden with explosives targeted the ceremony packed with young officers and their families as it was wrapping up. Without naming any particular group, the military accused insurgents “backed by known international forces” of the attack and said “it will respond with full force and decisiveness to these terrorist organisations, wherever they exist.”
However, the statement did not specify an organisation and no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack as Syria endures its 13th year of civil war.
So far, the war has killed half a million people, wounded hundreds of thousands and destroyed many parts of the country. It has displaced half of Syria’s prewar population of 23 million, including more than 5 million who are refugees outside Syria.