Airstrike destroys Idlib bread oven serving 150,000 people, with no money to rebuild

AMMAN: A bread oven that served dozens of towns and villages in rural southern Idlib province remained out of service on Tuesday for a fourth day with no funds to rebuild after a Syrian airstrike reportedly destroyed the facility, a local opposition council spokesman told Syria Direct.

Sinjar Oven was “the only automated bread factory in Sinjar,” a rural Idlib town 50km southeast of the provincial capital, Jaber Abu Mohammad, a spokesman for Sinjar’s local council, told Syria Direct. The factory produced 12,000 kilos of bread every day and served 74 nearby towns, he said.

Only three small bakeries now remain in the area around Sinjar, and none is machine-operated. The smaller ovens cannot meet the needs of the 150,000 people who relied on the Sinjar Oven, Jaber said.

Local authorities lack the funds to rebuild the factory, the council spokesman said, “which would take a long time even with proper funds, due to the extensive damage.”

The airstrike, which happened on Friday night, “completely destroyed one of the baking rooms,” while gunpowder and dirt mixed into most of the factory’s flour supplies, rendering it unusable, Jaber said.

Conveyor belts and other equipment lay crushed and ripped apart, and debris coated the factory floor in photos posted online Saturday by media outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

 Sinjar Oven after Friday night’s airstrikes. Photo courtesy of Jaber Abu Mohammad.

No injuries were reported, as the factory was closed during the airstrike.

Syria Direct could not verify that regime forces were behind the bombing, but Syrian and allied Russian war planes have struck civilian targets in Idlib’s countryside heavily in recent days, including in Maarat a-Numan, a key city along the Damascus-Aleppo highway just 30km west of Sinjar.

Neither Russian nor Syrian state media reported Friday’s airstrike on the bread factory.  

Though Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces target bakeries, “this is the first time” they struck the factory in Sinjar, Jaber, the local council spokesman, told Syria Direct.

Bread is a daily food staple for many Syrians, eaten alongside almost every meal.

Thousands of residents who relied on Sinjar Oven for bread are displaced people who fled regime bombardment in nearby Hama and Aleppo provinces, and now live in the towns and villages that dot rebel-held rural southern Idlib. 

One displaced Syrian who relied on Sinjar Oven says he and his family are still relying on the bread they bought before the airstrike.

“For three days now, we’ve been relying on leftover bread,” Abu Mohammad, a displaced father of six from Hama, told Syria Direct on Monday. “We’re already all out of rice and bulgur wheat, and I have no idea how much longer this will go on,” he said.

“Now, even a loaf of bread is hard to come by.”

Bahira al-Zarier

Bahira is from Damascus. She studied business and marketing before moving to Jordan in 2013. She did volunteer work in support of many refugee organizations before joining Syria Direct.

Madeline Edwards

Madeline Edwards graduated from the College of Charleston with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science in 2016. She was a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) recipient in Arabic in 2013. Her studies have brought her to Jordan, Palestine and Turkey.