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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid