Attack on Syria church gathering kills 2: state media

AFP , Sunday 24 Jul 2022

Two people were killed and 12 injured Sunday by bombardment of a church as it was being inaugurated in Syria's central province of Hama, the official SANA news agency reported.

A fighter affiliated with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group in the northern countryside of Syria s northwestern Latakia province, prepare to fire rockets using a domestically constructed launcher toward regime positions, reportedly in retaliation to an earlier Russian air strike, on July 22, 2022. AP


"A rocket fired by terrorist organisations targeted a religious gathering in the town of Al-Suqaylabiyah near Hama, killing two people and wounding 12," it said.

SANA said the attack came during a ceremony to inaugurate the Ayia Sofia church.

Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a vast network of sources on the ground, confirmed the attack.

Giving a toll of one civilian killed and several wounded, the Observatory said shelling or a drone attack by nearby rebel groups could be to blame.

Sunday's attack came two days after bombardment killed seven people including four children in the rebel-held Idlib region.

The Observatory said Friday's fatalities in the Jisr al-Shughur countryside of northern Syria were caused by Russian air strikes.

Around half of Idlib province as well as parts of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces are controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the former franchise in Syria of Al-Qaeda.

Other rebel groups in the last pocket of armed opposition to the Damascus regime also remain active, with varying degrees of Turkish backing.

In March 2020, Russia and Turkey brokered a truce in Idlib and neighbouring areas that still holds, despite sporadic attacks from both sides, including Russian air strikes.

Syria's war began in 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country's pre-war population from their homes.

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