News / Middle East

    Bombs Target Syrian Bakeries, Customers

    Syrians wait alongside rubble in Maaret Misreen near Idlib to buy bread at a local bakery, December 12. (AP)
    Syrians wait alongside rubble in Maaret Misreen near Idlib to buy bread at a local bakery, December 12. (AP)
    David Arnold
    President Bashar al-Assad’s military is attacking bakery facilities in rebel-held areas of the country in an attempt to undermine support for insurgents who have been trying for two years to topple his government.

    Human rights activists in Syria say close to 400 people have been killed in such attacks in the past eight months. But despite the risks, activists say residents desperate for food continue to line up for bread each morning to get their daily allotment of the flat Syrian bread known as Tannour.

    The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that if the bakery attacks are shown to be systematic and widespread, they could be considered war crimes or crimes against humanity.

    U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights South African Navanethem Pillay gestures during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva (file)U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights South African Navanethem Pillay gestures during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva (file)
    x
    U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights South African Navanethem Pillay gestures during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva (file)
    U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights South African Navanethem Pillay gestures during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva (file)
    On January 19, High Commissioner Navi Pillay repeated her request that the U.N. refer the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

    Driving up prices for a starving population

    The attacks on neighborhood bakeries are often carried out in the morning when 200 or more Syrians are lined up waiting to buy bread. Large commercial bakeries also have been hit, making the staple of the Syrian diet an expensive and rare commodity.

    In a mid-January, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)  reported that in addition to the destroyed bakeries and flour mills, the shortage of flour, fuel and electricity have resulted in widespread bread shortages. USAID officials said late last week they pledged $10 million to supply Aleppo with enough flour for 210,000 Syrians for five months.

    In the city of Aleppo, the price of bread rose from the equivalent of 10 cents a kilogram two years ago to $2.20 per kilogram last month, according to a non-government organization working with USAID.

    More than 90 Halfaya residents were killed when a Syrian air force Sukhoi-22 jet dropped eight cluster bombs on the town’s sole surviving bakery
    According to USAID, a government plane bombed the only bakery left in the central Syrian town of Halfaya, where residents were waiting to buy bread. Western media accounts of the bombing said it killed more than 60 bakery customers.

    In a similar incident, the opposition's largest activist networks, the Syrian Revolutionary General Commission (SRGC), says more than 90 residents were killed when a Syrian air force Sukhoi-22 jet dropped eight cluster bombs on the town’s sole surviving bakery.

    Activists charge regime with terrorism

    “The regime has deliberately and systematically been targeting bakeries and civilian gatherings lining in front of them in order to terrorize civilians and cause the highest death tolls…, ” the SRGC said in a report entitled Baked in Blood.

    “Bread is one of the most important foods in Arab countries,” said Layal Mohammad, who contributed to the SRGC report. “Since the regime knows bread is a basic need for civilians, ovens and bakeries are being targeted.”

    The SRCG study said such attacks have been carried out in nine of the country’s 14 provinces. Mohammad said the study could find no bakeries attacked in the five provinces under regime control.

    Human Rights Watch eyewitness accounts

    Human Rights Watch charged that over a three-week period last August, the Syrian government bombed or shelled areas around 10 bakeries in Aleppo province.

    “Ten bakery attacks is not random – they show no care for civilians and strongly indicate an attempt to target them,” said Ole Solvang, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. 

    Ten bakery attacks is not random – they show no care for civilians and strongly indicate an attempt to target them
    Human Rights Watch researchers witnessed some of the attacks, saying that government helicopters flew in firing rockets and dropping bombs. In some cases, people waiting in the bread lines heard the sounds of jets and helicopters and ran away. Others were hit by pieces of shrapnel.

    One Human Rights Watch report described an incident in the town of Bab al-Hadid last August 23. It said a man it identified as  “Fais” was standing at the doorway of the Aqyoul bakery, with as many as 200 residents lined up outside, when a government helicopter bombed the facility, killing at least 23 people.

    “I heard the helicopter and started telling people that there was no more bread left,” the 44-year-old Fais told Human Rights Watch. “I just wanted them to leave, away from danger.”

    “The bomb hit the corner of the street, and the shrapnel flew straight into the line – everyone still there was either killed or heavily injured,” Fais reported.

    Human Rights Watch has accused the Assad government of indiscriminate attacks on civilians and has urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    January 30, 2013 12:50 PM
    It is reasons like this that Bashar al Assad should face a death penalty in Syria by the Nation. Dropping bombs on bakeries is a form of genocide. He is targeting people who need to eat now. Bashar should be hanged for his crimes by the Syrian people.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.