Latest Idlib airstrike takes out Civil Defense headquarters: ‘We will continue’

 Mustafa Jibs (above) lost his arm as a result of Wednesday's airstrike on the Kafr Tarakhem Civil Defense Center. Photo courtesy of Mohammed Yehia.

AMMAN: An airstrike destroyed northwestern Idlib’s only Civil Defense center on Wednesday, with the volunteer first-responder organization pledging to continue its work “no matter our own losses.”

This attack marks the latest in a series of airstrikes across the province over the past two weeks, which have targeted civilian sites including hospitals, mosques, schools and outdoor markets.

Wednesday’s attack—allegedly a single missile strike from a Soviet-era Su-24 warplane—hit the Kafr Tarakhem Civil Defense headquarters, causing most of the building to collapse and taking out the majority of the group’s vehicles and equipment.

“The center was completely destroyed after sustaining a direct hit,” Mutea Jalal, spokesman for Idlib Province Civil Defense, told Syria Direct.

 The aftermath of Wednesday’s airstrike. Photo courtesy of the Idlib Civil Defense.

In addition to injuring five Civil Defense personnel, the airstrike destroyed six fire trucks, two water tankers, two vans and an ambulance.

One Civil Defense volunteer, Mustafa Jibs, lost his arm following the attack.

“’It’s no big deal,’” Mohammed Yehia, an Idlib Civil Defense volunteer and close friend of Jibs, told Syria Direct of Jibs’ reaction after the airstrike.

 The Civil Defense center was the only one in northwest Idlib province. Photo courtesy of the Idlib Civil Defense.

“’I’ll keep serving… until the fall of the regime’… These were his first words immediately after coming out of surgery,” Yehia said.

The Soviet-made Sukhoi Su-24, a signature plane of the Syrian military, executed the airstrike, said Jalal. Syria Direct could not independently confirm this claim.

At the time of writing, neither Syrian nor Russian state media had commented on charges of carrying out the strike on the Civil Defense center.

The Kafr Tarakhem Civil Defense Center’s 25 volunteers serve northwest Idlib province, including Armanaz, al-Bira, Haarem, Kafr Tarakhem and the surrounding towns. With the center now out of service, “there is no one else in the entire area,” said Civil Defense spokesman Jalal.

In a statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday, the Idlib Civil Defense vowed to continue its work.

“We will continue to serve others, no matter our own losses.”

Alaa Nassar

Alaa was forced to flee Damascus with her family because of the pressure from the Syrian regime in 2013. She was a student of Arabic Language & Literature at the University of Damascus. She came to Syria Direct because she hopes to find a new direction in her life and to show the world what is happening in her country.

Justin Schuster

Justin was a 2015-2016 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program (CASA I) in Amman, Jordan. He received his BA from Yale University with a double major in Global Affairs and Modern Middle Eastern Studies. While at Yale, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the political journal, The Politic. His previous work and research in the Middle East includes time spent in Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan, and the West Bank.