More than 35 people were killed Friday when Syrian government warplanes launched strikes against an army post in the central province of Hama, state media and an opposition watchdog said.
At least 20 of the dead were soldiers, state media reported. The al-Sana news agency later said 13 people were killed and 27 injured when Israeli warplanes bombed government positions at the Syrian Army post in the area of al-Sharqiyya.
An opposition monitoring group, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, said that at least 100 were killed. The group, which has a network of activists on the ground, called the attack “the biggest single bombing” in the province since an offensive there in September 2016.
“We lost our entire headquarters,” the LCCs said in a post on its Facebook page.
It said many of the dead were government troops, and that “50 civilians were the victims of air raids.”
In the Homs city, the Syrian government carried out seven airstrikes against rebels in the northern al-Qusair neighborhood, al-Sana reported.
Syria’s state news agency, SANA, said it was “the Syrian army that repelled a ferocious attack by insurgents who tried to infiltrate the (Homs) countryside” near al-Qusair. It said rebel positions were “destroyed” and 30 “terrorist” fighters killed.
Rebels in northern Hama province control three Syrian villages, al-Assab, al-Durazh and al-Kerissis, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syria air defenses
The Syrian army is strengthening its defense around its key Hama citadel, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Syrian activists in nearby Qusair uploaded videos to social media of what they said was a series of airstrikes by Syrian government aircraft on Friday.
Hama is the northernmost province of the country, with most of the population located near the Lebanese border, nearly 320 kilometers (199 miles) from Damascus.
The army announced Friday it had declared an “open war” in the area.
To add insult to injury, the Syrian warplanes dropped leaflets on the countryside near al-Qusair, warning residents and rebel fighters: “Syria is not Libya” and warning residents: “Syria will never back down.”
“We will strike your hideouts with jet fighter planes and helicopter gunships. You are going to pay the price. Look at your workmen in the streets, they are not working anymore. This is the price of the terrorism you love,” the leaflets said.