Missile attacks on sleeping Civil Defense personnel in west Aleppo kill 5

AMMAN: Three separate missiles struck the only Civil Defense station in the Aleppo town of Atareb on Tuesday, killing five of its members in the latest of a string of attacks on civilian and opposition infrastructure in the northern province.

The opposition media blamed both Russia and Assad’s air force for the missile attacks. An administrator with the Civil Defense told Syria Direct on Tuesday that the source of the bombings remains unclear. “The strikes were precise and targeted,” said Radi a-Saad, a Civil Defense official.

 The aftermath of Tuesday’s attacks. Photo courtesy of Hamid Kutini (member of the Civil Defense in Atareb).

Early Tuesday morning, as the on-duty Civil Defense personnel slept at the center, the missiles injured an unknown number of them while “completely destroying” all of the ambulances and fire trucks parked at the station, according to an official announcement released by the Syrian Civil Defense on Tuesday.

The Civil Defense station in rebel-controlled Atareb is located approximately 30km west of Aleppo city. It was the first in northern Syria, established in late 2012.

The five Civil Defense personnel were “highly experienced,” Emir al-Fajj, a citizen journalist in Atareb, told Syria Direct Tuesday, adding that they had previously worked as first responders before defecting from the regime.

 The Civil Defense station hours after three missiles hit it. Photo courtesy of Atareb LCC.

Since April 22, regime forces have been pounding rebel positions in and around Aleppo city, including Atareb, from the air and ground, killing dozens of civilians.

Airstrikes also targeted several rebel-controlled neighborhoods in Aleppo city on Tuesda,  killing 12 residents and injuring several others, reported pro-opposition Shahed Ayan Halab on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, another airstrike targeted the hospital in Atareb, injuring medical personnel, killing a woman and child and prompting it to close, reported pro-opposition Enab Baladi on Saturday.

The regime “targets whatever gives people hope and a chance at life,” said a-Saad.

Despite the loss of their colleagues and equipment in Atareb, the loss of the station won’t have a “major impact” on the Civil Defense’s operations because other teams around the town can “cover the area,” Civil Defense official a-Saad told Syria Direct.

“This action will not deter us, but rather we will keep going. We’ll meet their crimes with our humanity.”

Noura Hourani

Noura Hourani is from Latakia province. She studied English Literature at Tishreen University and previously worked as a private English tutor in Syria. She has worked at Syria Direct since 2015 and was named the 2018 Middle East and North Africa Laureate for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers' (WAN-IFRA) Women in News Editorial Leadership Award.

Fatima al-Jundi

Fatima was born in Qudsaya, Damascus. She holds a law degree from Damascus university. She moved to Jordan in 2012. She is hoping to learn journalism in order to change people’s perceptions about the conflict in Syria.

Samuel Kieke

Samuel Kieke was a 2014-2015 CASA I fellow in Amman, Jordan. He received his BA from the University of Texas at Austin in Arabic Language and Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, and International Relations and Global Studies.