The provisional toll is 53 dead, but the figure is expected to increase given the many serious injuries. It is still uncertain who is responsible for the raid: local activists say they were Syrian jets or Russian aircraft. The area falls within the de-escalation zones. Putin and Erdogan relaunch diplomatic efforts for peace in the country.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) – At least 53 people, mostly civilians and children, have died in a series of air raids on the central market of a rebel city in one of the "de-escalation" of conflict zones in northern Syria. Local sources reported the attack to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (Osdh) , but they are not able to point out whether it was carried out by Damascus or its Russian ally.
The town of Atareb, controlled by groups in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is the epicentre of the conflict. Eye witnesses usually base their identification of the attackers on the type of aircraft used, their location, and ammunition that remain on the ground after the attack.
Atareb, located in the western province of Aleppo province and controlled by several rebel groups, was the subject of three different raid air strikes. Osdh sources do not exclude a upward rise in the toll due to the high number of injured, some of whom are in serious condition. Residents under shock from the attack tried to evacuate the wounded under the rubble; the scale of the destruction was huge and widespread, with ruins scattered everywhere.
Conflict de-escalation zones are the result of talks in Astana, sponsored by Russia, Iran (allied to the government of Damascus), and Turkey (close to the rebels). There are four in total, located in different parts of the country, and within them - in principle – there is a ceasefire between government and rebels. One of these areas concerns the Idlib province, the only one northwest of the rebels, as well as parts of the nearby provinces of Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia.
Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met face-to-face over four hours in Sochi, a tourist resort on the Black Sea. The two leaders on opposite sides in the context of the Syrian conflict agree on the need to strengthen diplomatic efforts to reach a long-term political agreement between the parties in the fight. "We are united - the Kremlin said at the end of the meeting - in the need to step up efforts to ensure a long-term stabilization of [Syria]. And above all, to carry out the process in the direction of a political agreement. " This was echoed by the Turkish president, who said today there is "a basis that allows us to focus attention on the political process".
The Syrian conflict, which broke out in March 2011 as protest against President Assad and then deteriorated into a fully-fledged war with jihadist infiltration, has caused nearly 400,000 deaths so far. It has also triggered the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, with millions of internally displaced and displaced persons.