Russia blamed for horrific Syria market bombing, which killed at least 61 civilians

Russia blamed for horrific Syria market bombing, which killed at least 61 civilians
Russia has been blamed for air raids on a busy Syrian market in a rebel town on Monday that left at least 61 people dead.
2 min read
14 November, 2017
Atareb has been targeted by massive bombing again [AFP]

A horrific bombing of a marketplace in a Syrian opposition town which left scores dead has been blamed on Russia, which activists saying the bombing was the direct targeting of a civilian area by Moscow.

Several air strikes hit a busy market in Atareb, Aleppo province, on Monday killing at least 61 civilians reducing the commercial centre and surrounding buildings to rubble. 

The market traders and shoppers were likely taken by surprise when the bombs hit, as the opposition town is covered by the Russian-sponsored "de-escalation zone". This means it should not be targeted by enemy fire or air strikes.

World powers have not directly blamed Moscow but said Russia is at least partially responsible for the massacre due to it being a co-sponsor of the de-escalation zones project, along with Turkey and Iran.

"France condemns the bombings on 13 November in Atareb, which caused the deaths of dozens of civilians," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne said on Tuesday.

"We call on the allies of the Damascus regime to do their utmost to stop these unacceptable attacks and to bring about a definitive cessation of hostilities."

The opposition Syrian National Coalition condemned the attack and blamed Russia in a statement.

"[The] brutal crime which was committed by aircraft of the Russian occupation forces in the town of Atareb," the opposition body noted.

The opposition umbrella linked the attack to Russia's recent overtures to the US that it would participate in the UN-backed Geneva peace process.

This came after the opposition rejected the Moscow-sponsored Sochi "peace" conference with some seeing the Atareb bombing as a revenge attack by Russia.

"The crime has also proved that Russia is determined to side with the Assad regime," the Syrian National Coalition said.

Free Syrian Army units targeted regime forces with artillery in a northern Hama town in response to Arareb attack on Monday.

Meanwhile, the UN has warned a blockade of an opposition region near Damascus was becoming a "complete catastrophe" due to the regime hindering deliveries of medical and food aid to Ghouta.

UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland called on Russia to use its influence with the regime to open the starved region to food and medical aid.