Drone attack on Syrian military academy graduation ceremony kills over 100 people and wounds 240

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on Syrian military officers. Credit: AP

More than 100 people have been killed in a drone attack that hit a packed military graduation on Thursday, a monitoring organisation has said.

The strike, in the western city of Homs, was one of the deadliest attacks on the Syrian army in recent years, with the country’s conflict now in its thirteenth year.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the strike on the military academy, but Syria's defence ministry said in a statement that "terrorist" groups had carried it out.

Syria's military said drones laden with explosives targeted the ceremony as it came to an end, adding that some of the wounded, including children, were left in a critical condition.

In a statement, the Syrian military said it "will respond with full force and decisiveness to these terrorist organizations wherever they exist".

The attack followed a military strike on the village of Kafr-Nouran, leaving dozens injured. Credit: Syrian Emergency Task Force/X

Syrian health minister Hassan al-Ghabash had previously set the death toll at 80, adding that six children and other civilians were among the dead, while 240 had been wounded.

Since then, monitoring organisation The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that over 116 people had died, including at least 59 newly graduated officers and 30 civilians.

Earlier on Thursday, the Syrian government shelled the village of Kafr Nouran in the rebel-held northwestern part of the country, killing at least five civilians, activists and emergency workers said. 

The shelling in western Aleppo province came amid a rise in strikes in the opposition-held enclave in recent days - hitting a family home on the village's outskirts, according to volunteer group The White Helmets.

Among the dead was an older woman, three of her daughters and her son, according to the Observatory, while nine other family members were wounded.

Neither Syria nor its key military ally Russia commented on the shelling, but Damascus says strikes in the northwestern province target armed insurgent groups.

The Syrian pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said the Syrian army had targeted the al-Qaida-linked militant group Hayat Tahrir al Sham in response to its shelling of government forces' positions in southern Idlib. 

People who were injured arrive to receive treatment at a hospital in Idlib, Syria. Credit: Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets

The White Helmets say the Syrian government strikes have increased this past week, including shelling in the city of Sarmeen on Tuesday that hit a school and mosque, killing at least six people.

Northwestern Syria is mostly held by the HTS insurgent group, as well as Turkish-backed forces. 

The vast majority of around 4.1 million people residing in the enclave live in poverty and rely on humanitarian aid, and many of them are internally displaced Syrians.

Meanwhile, local authorities in northeastern Syria under US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said 15 Turkish drone attacks on Thursday struck oil fields and infrastructure across the enclave in Hassakeh and Qamishli provinces, including oil production facilities, electrical substations and a dam. 

A statement from the authorities — known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria — said that six members of the security forces and two civilians were killed, while three other civilians were wounded. 

Turkish authorities didn't immediately comment on the strikes. 

Ankara says the main Syrian Kurdish militia is allied with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has led an insurgency against Turkey since 1984 that has killed tens of thousands of people.

Syrian Kurdish forces were a major US ally in the war against the militant Islamic State group, which was defeated in Syria in March 2019. 

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