Turkish group says Russians targeted bakery in Syria

IHH says bakery destroyed in attack in Idlib provided daily bread for nearly 45,000 internally displaced people.

Men inspect the damage at a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force on a busy market place in the town of Ariha, in Idlib province, Syria
Men inspect damage at a site hit by what activists said were Russian air strikes in the town of Ariha [Ammar Abdullah/Reuters]

A bakery established by one of Turkey’s largest humanitarian organisations, IHH, was targeted by suspected Russian air strikes in Syria’s Idlib province, according to the organisation.

Russia was blamed by Syrian opposition activists for the attacks, which left at least  44 people dead on Sunday.

IHH said via Twitter on Monday that the bakery, which was established 16 months ago, provided daily bread for nearly 45,000 internally displaced Syrians.

Mustafa Ozbek, from IHH’s media office in Istanbul, told Al Jazeera that the bakery – in the town of Saraqeb – was destroyed in the attack.

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“They completely destroyed our bakery as well as the flour mill in the building,” he said.

“This bakery was very important because it provided bread for internally displaced Syrians.


“Locals said the air strikes were launched by Russian jets and that the Russians had been targeting those areas in the past few days.

“They said at least 20 missiles were dropped by four Russian warplanes.

Ozbek said Sunday’s attack “was the first time any of our facilities was targeted”.

However, citing activists, he said that trucks loaded with humanitarian aid and food-storage facilities have been targeted.

None of the employees was killed in the attack, IHH said.

Sunday’s air strikes also targeted a crowded marketplace and several other areas in Idlib province, according to local activists.

Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency quoted Bulent Yildirim, IHH’s president, as saying: “If bakeries, camps are attacked, that means the aim is to eliminate all Syrian people.”

IHH officials told Turkey’s Daily Sabah that the Russian warplanes first targeted positions near the bakery as a warning, but as the people in the bakery left, the jets struck again and demolished the building.

The Russian government has yet to respond to IHH’s accusations.

Tensions grew between the two countries after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet which it says violated its air space and was warned repeatedly.

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Elsewhere in Syria on Sunday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least five people were killed, including one child, in suspected Russian air strikes.

The raids targeted the town of Azaz in Aleppo province, the activists’ network said.

Syria’s Civil Defence, a team of civilian rescue workers, said seven trucks loaded with humanitarian supplies were also targeted in the air strikes.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the reports.

The air strikes in Aleppo targeted residential areas and trucks loaded with humanitarian aid, Syria's Civil Defence said [Syria Civil Defence]
The air strikes in Aleppo targeted residential areas and trucks loaded with humanitarian aid, Syria’s Civil Defence said [Syria Civil Defence]
Russia says it targets the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and other “terrorists”, but critics accuse it of targeting other rebel groups more than ISIL.

Idlib is not a stronghold of ISIL, which controls wide areas of eastern Syria.

The Syrian Observatory reported last week that Russian air operations had killed over 400 civilians since Russian forces launched their first air strike in September this year.

The Syrian conflict has killed at least 250,000 people, according to the UN, and more than half of Syria’s prewar population of 22.4 million have been internally displaced or have fled abroad.

Source: Al Jazeera