More than 100 people were killed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime airstrikes on a heavily trafficked market northeast of Damascus on Sunday, making it one of the deadliest attacks of the four-year civil war, according to a monitor group.
VICE News learned from local rescue workers that at least 111 people were killed and 300 others wounded in the attack on the main market in Douma, a suburb less than 10 miles away from Damascus.
“Rescue workers reported that 95 bodies had been identified and a further nine victims were to be identified after the army hit rebel-held Douma on the outskirts of the Syrian capital on Sunday,” notes Channel 4 News.
Majid Khalaf, a spokesman for the Douma Civil Defense team, told VICE News that “11 bodies [were] still stuck in the rubble,” noting that “300 people had been injured and the death toll was likely to rise still further as rescuers continued to dig though the ruins.”
Most of the fatalities are believed to be civilians, reveals the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the Syrian conflict using a network of sources on the ground.
The Assad regime is accused of firing at least 10 rockets into the market in Douma, some of which were reportedly launched after rescue workers had arrived.
“This is an official massacre that was carried out deliberately,” said Rami Abdurrahman, who heads SOHR.
Douma is located in the Eastern Ghouta region, which is often attacked by the Assad regime.
“The strikes [targeting civilians] appeared to have been launched in retaliation for the capture of an army base in a nearby suburb a day earlier by the Islamic Army rebel group, which enjoys strong support in Douma,” reports The Associated Press (AP).
Women and children were among the dead, according to various news reports.
“Horrific pictures, many too graphic to be shown, show the scene of devastation after the bombings, with lifeless bodies – including those of children – lined up on the bloodstained floor of a makeshift clinic,” reports Daily Mail.
“Frantic residents brought in waves of injured, who were treated on chairs, beds and the floor as the clinic overflowed with patients,” it adds. “Dead bodies were lined up in rows and covered with sheets as medics worked nearby to treat the wounded, among them screaming children.
In a report released last week, human rights group Amnesty International revealed that 500 civilians had been killed by Assad regime airstrikes described as “indiscriminate” and “grossly disproportionate”.
“The Turkey-based Syrian political opposition group, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said the attack [on the Douma market was] aimed to inflict as many civilian casualties as possible,” notes Channel 4 News.
More than 250,000 lives have been lost in the Syrian civil war, which has displaced up to a third of the country’s pre-conflict population.
“Douma is one of the largest suburbs of Damascus and has been held by rebels since the early days of Syria’s conflict, which began in March 2011 with mostly peaceful protests but escalated into a full-scale civil war after a massive government crackdown,” notes AP.