Two people killed in a drone attack during church inauguration in Hama province

The attack marred the opening ceremony of Hagia Sophia Church in Suqaylabiyah, a replica of Istanbul’s ancient Byzantine Basilica recently repurposed as a mosque. The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an anti-Assad terror group still in control of a large area of northern Syria, was blamed. The incident comes a few days after Erdoğan, Putin, and Raisi meet to de-escalate the Syrian conflict.

Hama (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Two people were killed and 12 injured in yesterday’s drone attack against a church in Suqaylabiyah, a town in the central Syrian province of Hama.

A large crowd of worshippers and many government officials were in attendance of the inauguration of Hagia Sophia Church, named after the monumental Byzantine Basilica in Istanbul that was turned again into a mosque a few years ago.

A video of the incident shows a drone with an explosive charge crashing near the church during the celebrations, killing and wounding people.

The terrorist action was blamed on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group backed by Turkey that still controls large areas in the provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, the last pocket of armed opposition to the government of Bashar al Assad eleven years since the start of Syria’s civil war.

Recently, Russian planes killed seven people in rebel-held areas. Russia backs the regime of Bashar al Assad. In March 2020, Russia and Turkey brokered a truce in the Idlib region and neighbouring areas, which is periodically violated by attacks by both sides.

The de-escalation of this front of the conflict in Syria was one of the issues discussed last week at the Tehran summit of the Astana group, which brought together Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi.