In a tragic incident that sent shockwaves through war-torn Syria, a deadly drone attack struck a military academy on Thursday, resulting in a devastating toll of over 100 lives lost. This unprecedented assault, utilizing weaponized drones, occurred shortly after Syria’s defense minister had departed from a graduation ceremony held at the facility. The attack, which claimed both civilian and military lives, has been labeled as one of the deadliest ever to hit a Syrian army installation. While Syria’s defense ministry attributed the attack to “terrorist” groups deploying drones, it refrained from specifying any particular organization. As of now, no group has come forward to claim responsibility for this horrific assault.
This heart-wrenching drone attack unfolded at a military academy located in the central province of Homs, within a nation that has been grappling with a relentless 12-year civil war. The use of weaponized drones in this manner was a stark departure from previous methods of engagement, underscoring the evolving nature of conflict in the region.
The victims of this merciless attack included both civilians and military personnel, with Syria’s defense ministry expressing its condemnation of the act. The ministry’s statement highlighted the utilization of drones by “terrorist” groups, yet it refrained from specifying the identity of these groups. No immediate claim of responsibility has been made by any organization.
In the aftermath of the drone attack, Syrian government forces responded with heavy airstrikes on the opposition-held area of Idlib, intensifying the already volatile situation. Syria’s defense and foreign ministries issued a joint statement, vowing to retaliate “with full force” in response to the attack on the military academy.
According to reports, Syria’s defense minister had attended the graduation ceremony at the military academy but had left the premises just minutes before the attack occurred. This timely departure, as reported by a Syrian security source and a source in the regional alliance supporting the Damascus government against opposition forces, is believed to have saved his life. Eyewitness accounts from the scene described the immediate aftermath of the attack, with one Syrian individual who had assisted in setting up decorations for the ceremony stating, “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.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a staggering toll of more than 100 lives lost, accompanied by 125 individuals sustaining injuries. An official from the alliance backing Syria’s government estimated the death toll to be approximately 100. In contrast, Health Minister Hassan Al-Ghobash offered a slightly lower count, stating on state television that 80 individuals had lost their lives, including six women and six children, while approximately 240 people had suffered injuries.
Syria’s conflict, which commenced with anti-government protests against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, has since escalated into a protracted and devastating war. The toll of this conflict has been staggering, resulting in hundreds of thousands of lives lost and millions displaced. The Syrian army, significantly weakened by the prolonged fighting, has relied heavily on military support from nations such as Russia and Iran, as well as fighters backed by Tehran from countries including Lebanon and Iraq.
While President Assad’s forces have regained control over most of the country, a substantial portion in the north, bordering Turkey, remains under the control of armed opposition groups, including extremist jihadist fighters.
In this grim turn of events, the world watches with heavy hearts as Syria grapples with yet another devastating blow, further underscoring the urgent need for peace and stability in a region that has borne the brunt of conflict for far too long.