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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid