Five consecutive airstrikes on a civil defense center in Atarib killed up to six members of the White Helmets. Reports however were conflicted: most blame the Assad regime, with only one (the Shaam News Network) alleging that this was the work of Russia – and reporting here was confused.
According to the White Helmets, there were “several raids by warplanes using ballistic missiles“. They said that the regime carried out the attack, killing five members of the civil defense and injuring two more when the civil defense center was struck.
A White Helmets’ eyewitness gave the following testimony in a video: “The regime tried to hit al Atareb civil defence centre. They carried out two raids at 11:00 at night and there were no injuries as the missiles fell in the olives groves. Then they came back after 1 o’clock in the morning and carried out the first and the second strike and the guys were OK, but then the third strike came and hit the centre. I mean, half the guys were in pieces and then the fourth raid came to finish them off. Five were martyred, two were injured and two are totally fine. The equipment is all destroyed, the ambulances, the rescue cars: all of it. There is no centre anymore. There were cluster bombs. When the guys came to help us, two more missiles were fired. You can see one of them there: about 12 meters long and still smoking. This one didn’t cause any injuries.”
A later statement by the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) said: “At exactly one o’clock after midnight on Tuesday, the twenty sixth of April 2016, Al Ataerb Center of Civil Defense was targeted by warplanes with five consecutive strikes. [It went] as follows: The first raid was on the northern corner of the center after which volunteers headed to the basic shelter that was dug up in the centre. The second second raid hit the northwest of the center and the third raid hit the shelter directly killing five of the volunteers. The White Helmets identified the first five victims seen below.
The same raid led to injuries amongst the rest of the team members – with medium and light injuries. The fourth raid destroyed the buildings and the sleeping quarters and the last raid targeted the ambulance garage and other machinery leading to the full destruction of all the equipment of the center. 45 minutes after the raids a ballistic missile mounted with cluster bombs was launched from the regime defense centres south of Aleppo toward the center and fell outside the center.”
However, according to an initial report by Shaam News, Russia was responsible: “Activists said the Russian bombardment directly targeted the civil defense center with several air raids with rockets”. They named the same victims as the White Helmets but later added that Mohammad Bakour (“the driver“) and Abboud al Mukhtar were injured. But there was some confusion in reporting, with SNN later saying that the “Civil defence centre in al Atareb that was destroyed by Assad’s planes and missiles“. In a third posting, it reverted to its original position and said Russia was to blame.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published 10 images showing damage caused by the bombardment, though did not specify which warplanes were responsible. It put the death toll at six – all members of the White Helmets – with further civilians injured.
A news brief by the Syrian Network for Human Rights attributed the incident to the regime. A later report said that six were killed, of which five were members of the White Helmets, with two other non-combatants wounded.
The incident occured at approximately 11:00 pm local time.
The victims were named as:
Sources (20) [ collapse]
from sources (27) [ collapse]
Russian Military Assessment:
Original strike reports
The Kremlin has issued no public accounts of airstrikes in Syria from April 1st – 30th.