x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Suicide bomber targeting children hits Syrian school, killing 6

Suicide bomber detonates explosives-laden truck in Shiite Syrian village, killing six people, including three children and a woman, and wounding dozens.

Syrians inspect the site of truck bomb, near Homs, which killed 6 people and injured 37. EPA
Syrians inspect the site of truck bomb, near Homs, which killed 6 people and injured 37. EPA

DAMASCUS // A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck in a Shiite Syrian village on Monday, killing six in the latest attack to underscore the growing sectarian nature of the country’s three-year-old conflict.

Three children and a woman were among the dead in the early morning bombing at a school in Sabtiyeh, near the city of Homs, the official news agency Sana said, adding that about 40 others were wounded.

Footage aired on state television showed panicked residents rushing to ambulances carrying wounded children.

“What did these children do to be killed?” a man angrily shouted.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast, but such bombings are the hallmark of Al Qaeda-linked groups who have joined Syrian rebels battling to overthrow the government of Bashar Al Assad.

Hard-line Sunni brigades, some formed of foreign fighters, have powerful fighting units. Shiite fighters from Lebanon’s Hizbollah militia and from Iraq have shored up Mr Al Assad’s forces, in part to protect their minority and holy sites in Syria.

But attacks specifically targeting civilians of other sects are infrequent, said Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the uprising through a network of activists on the ground.

Mr Abdurrahman said he believed the Shiite village was targeted because of its sectarian affiliation since no fighting had been reported there previously, adding that it was known for having good relations with nearby Sunni communities.

Syrian rebel groups have experienced a series of military setbacks lately.

The Observatory reported on Monday that Syrian Kurdish fighters had wrested nearly 20 villages near the Turkish border from the Al Qaeda group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant after days of clashes. Syria’s long-repressed ethnic Kurdish minority has used the conflict to assert more control over areas they dominate, with the tacit backing of Mr Al Assad’s government, which sees them as a bulwark against the rebels.

And on Sunday, the prominent Syrian rebel Col Abdul-Jabbar Al Akidi said he was stepping down from the leadership of Aleppo province’s rebel military council.

* Associated Press