partlycloudy
Thursday November 23rd, 2017 11:58AM

Death toll from Syrian market airstrikes climbs to 61

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rescue workers on Tuesday continued their search for victims still under the rubble a day after airstrikes hit a busy market in a rebel-held town in the country's north, killing at least 61 people, according to a monitoring group and rescuers.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there were at least three airstrikes on the market in the town of Atareb on Monday — those killed included six women, five children and three police officers. The Observatory's director, Rami Abdurrahman, said the rest were male civilians.

The Syrian Civil Defense search-and-rescue volunteers, known as the White Helmets, told The Associated Press they gave up hope of finding more survivors after dawn, though recovery efforts continued. They said the death toll had climbed to at least 61 on Tuesday; 90 people were injured.

Atareb and the countryside around it remain outside the control of the government in Damascus. Government forces retook the nearby city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, following a ferocious assault on the rebel-held neighborhoods there in 2015.

The town population swelled with the arrival of Syrians who fled from fighting elsewhere in the country's north. Atarab's market drew not just the townspeople but also shoppers from the countryside and nearby villages.

"You can see the body fragments in the rubble," said Yasser Hmeish, a medical technician at the scene. "This morning I saw civilians and rescue workers trying to lift the cement chunks to find the missing."

"There were restaurants, mobile phone shops, butchers: it was a market in the full sense of the word," Hmeish added. "It's been completely destroyed." Videos from the scene show a totally collapsed building amid other smaller buildings, and rescuers stepping over the rubble to get to the areas where they pull out survivors.

The airstrikes ripped through the market, crushed buildings and damaged an adjacent traffic police station. Survivors found limbs in the rubble and bodies with heads crushed by the pressure of the blasts.

The Observatory said it couldn't determine whether Russia or the Syrian government was behind the attack. The opposition Syrian National Coalition accused Russia, Syrian President Bashar Assad' chief military backer.

The attack was the latest breach in a "de-escalation" agreement mediated by Russia that sought to protect the civilian population but that has largely proven unenforceable.

Also Tuesday, Syria's government called on the United States to withdraw its forces from the country now that the fight against the Islamic State group is nearly over. The Foreign Ministry statement, carried by state-run media, said the presence of U.S troops will not force a political solution to the conflict.

The comments came a day after U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said "we are not going to just walk away right now" before the U.N-backed political process yields results.

The United States "will not force a solution through military pressure but instead, (it) will prolong the crisis and make it more complicated," the ministry said.

U.S troops and advisers are supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against Islamic State militants in northern and eastern Syria. Kurdish officials want the Americans to remain in the country to help prevent clashes with pro-government forces, which are also battling IS.

The SDF and Syrian government troops are racing for control of territories previously controlled by IS in eastern Syria. Syrian troops and allied militias have seized the last town near the border with Iraq, Boukamal, before losing it hours later in an IS counteroffensive. Meanwhile, SDF continues to battle IS militants on the opposite side of the river.

U.S. officials say they are maintaining contacts with their Russian counterparts to ensure no friction occurs between the two forces. Russia is a key ally of President Bashar Assad, along with Iranian-backed militias.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there was no agreement with the U.S. to have Iranian or pro-Iranian forces withdraw from areas near the Syrian border with Israel.

The U.S. is seeking a deal to push them away from the frontier with its ally Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that his country would carry out operations inside Syria according to its "security needs."

Israel has largely stayed on the sidelines of the Syrian war, but its officials have said they will not tolerate Iranian military presence in Syria. They have acknowledged carrying out dozens of airstrikes on suspected Iranian weapons shipments to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Israel is also suspected of striking Syrian military installations.

Syria's civil war, now in its seventh year, has killed at least 400,000 people and displaced 11 million — half of Syria's pre-war population.

___

Associated Press Writers Sarah El Deeb in Beirut and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP World News - International incidents
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
4th person shot dead in Tampa in possible serial spree
A fourth person has been found shot to death in a Florida neighborhood that may be targeted by a serial killer
10:57AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Judge tells Menendez jury to 'take as much time as you need'
Jurors in the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez have resumed deliberations a day after they told the judge they are at an impasse
10:55AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Land policies to be tested in Bundy standoff trial in Vegas
A rancher's refusal to recognize federal authority will be presented to a jury in Las Vegas, where a trial is set to start for cattleman Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a co-defendant accused of leading a 2014 armed standoff against government agents
10:49AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Russia drafts legislation targeting foreign media
Russian lawmakers say they have drafted legal amendments that would allow the government to register international media outlets as foreign agents
9:41AM ( 1 hour ago )
Nations press panel to raise annual Bluefin tuna quotas
Nations from around the Atlantic and Mediterranean start assessing how much more of the prized Bluefin tuna can be caught in the next years amid signs stocks of the iconic fish continue to recover
9:23AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump faces new challenges in tax overhaul, Alabama race
President Donald Trump is headed home following an Asia tour he called "tremendously successful."
8:43AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
Quake kills 430 in Iranian border region rebuilt after war
Rescuers dug with their bare hands through the debris of buildings felled by an earthquake that killed 430 in the border region of Iran and Iraq, with many casualties in an area rebuilt after ruinous 1980s war
10:04PM ( 12 hours ago )
Saudi walks back escalation as dramatic moves backfire
Saudi Arabia tries to walk back escalation as its dramatic moves to counter Iran in region backfire
3:59PM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: Iran's death toll from earthquake rises to 445
Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency is reporting that 445 people were killed and 7,370 injured in the Sunday earthquake along the Iran-Iraq border
2:15PM ( 20 hours ago )
AP World News - International incidents
4th person shot dead in Tampa in possible serial spree
A fourth person has been found shot to death in a Florida neighborhood that may be targeted by a serial killer
10:57AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Judge tells Menendez jury to 'take as much time as you need'
Jurors in the bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez have resumed deliberations a day after they told the judge they are at an impasse
10:55AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Land policies to be tested in Bundy standoff trial in Vegas
A rancher's refusal to recognize federal authority will be presented to a jury in Las Vegas, where a trial is set to start for cattleman Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a co-defendant accused of leading a 2014 armed standoff against government agents
10:49AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Ohio transfers sick inmate to death house ahead of execution
Ohio is starting final preparations for executing a sick inmate who will be provided a wedge-shaped pillow to help him breathe as he's put to death this week
10:32AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Paddington creator Michael Bond honored at cathedral service
British actor Hugh Bonneville has joined hundreds of mourners at a memorial service for Michael Bond, creator of marmalade-loving bear Paddington.
10:29AM ( 32 minutes ago )