Updated: Aug 13
The joy of farmer Abu Salim, as he harvested his crops and prepared to sell them to provide for his family amidst the turmoil of war, was tragically shattered when Russian warplanes, in an indiscriminate act, killed his eldest son and eight other farmers in the vegetable market of Jisr al-Shughur. These innocent farmers had done nothing wrong except to aspire for a brighter future and work diligently to sustain their livelihoods.
Abu Salim, speaking from the door of the hospital room, expressed his belief that Russia and the Assad regime harbour a deliberate intention to completely annihilate their community. Since 2015, Russia has demolished their home, forcibly displacing them from their town and forcing them to live in camps along the Syrian-Turkish border. Despite the immense hardships they endured, this year they courageously returned, striving to cultivate their land and rebuild their lives amidst the challenges of agriculture, harsh weather, and adversity. Their hopes were focused on the upcoming tomato harvest, a source of great joy and anticipation. However, in a heartbreaking instant, that joy was mercilessly transformed into an unending sorrow that will haunt Abu Salim until his last breath. The Assad regime and Russia, without reason or mercy, took the life of his son in the vegetable market of Jisr al-Shughour, where he was simply selling their hard-earned crop. Abu Salim and his family cannot comprehend why Russia continues to oppress and target them with such deadly weapons, as they have done nothing to deserve this suffering. On the morning of Sunday, June 25, a tragic incident unfolded as Russian warplanes deliberately targeted a bustling vegetable market in the city of Jisr al-Shughur, located in western Idlib. The ruthless attack resulted in the loss of 9 innocent lives and left 30 others wounded, according to an ongoing tally provided by the Syrian Civil Defense operating in northwestern Syria.
The vegetable market served as a vital hub where hundreds of hardworking farmers from the areas of Sahl al-Ghab and Sahl al-Rouj converged with their produce. Their purpose was simple: to sell their crops to merchants and return home with provisions and gifts for their families. Situated in the heart of western Syria, the market held strategic significance due to its proximity to fertile agricultural plains.
Witnessing this horrifying massacre was Samir Al-Adnan, a trader familiar with the daily routines of the market. Dozens of merchants from various regions of northwest Syria frequented the market to purchase a variety of vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, and watermelons, all harvested by humble farmers. Tragically, the Russian warplanes unleashed their destructive power upon this thriving marketplace, shattering the farmers' dreams and reducing their small-scale projects to ruins. In a horrifying juxtaposition, the blood of the farmers mingled with the vibrant red hues of the tomato fruits, a haunting sight etched into the memories of all who witnessed the scene.
Amidst the bustling atmosphere of buying and selling, the farmers' faces were adorned with expressions of happiness and hope. Yet, within moments, the tranquillity was shattered by a deafening explosion, followed by a thick cloud of dust, cries of distress, and desperate pleas for assistance. As the dust settled, a devastating reality emerged—dozens of people lay covered in blood, their fate uncertain, as the line between the living and the deceased blurred. Unfathomably, the warplane returned to the scene, launching two missiles at the same location, further claiming lives and causing additional injuries.
This appalling act of violence serves as a stark reminder of the merciless brutality inflicted by Russia upon innocent civilians. The victims were hardworking farmers and merchants, driven by the simple desire to provide for their families and contribute to their communities. Instead, they fell victim to a merciless assault that robbed them of their livelihoods, shattered their dreams, and left a deep scar on the collective memory of the region.
The Russian attack on the city of Jisr al-Shughur coincided with similar raids in the vicinity of Idlib, claiming the lives of two more innocent individuals and causing injuries of varying severity, as confirmed by field activist Musab al-Yassin. The residents of northern Syria, particularly those in western Syria, were gripped by fear during this relentless onslaught, with the skies witnessing the arrival of four Russian warplanes accompanied by reconnaissance planes. The coordinated attack on the vicinity of the city of Idlib resulted in the loss of civilian lives and injuries within a mere two-minute difference. Additionally, the village of Benin in the Jericho region, situated in the south of Idlib, fell victim to the aggression.
This brutal campaign of bombing and attacks unleashed by the Syrian regime and Russian warplanes spanned three agonizing days, targeting towns and cities in northwestern Syria. The violence traversed the Al-Ghab Plain west of Hama and extended to the villages and towns of Jabal Al-Zawiya in the south of Idlib. The relentless assault eventually reached the city of Idlib and the Kafr Nuran camp west of Aleppo. Tragically, on Friday, four innocent civilians fell victim to missile strikes by regime forces. It is important to note that these civilian lives were tragically lost amidst a backdrop of conflict between the Wagner militia and Putin's forces, as Russia sought to vent its anger on Syrian civilians during this tumultuous period of global crime.
These relentless attacks and the resulting loss of innocent lives paint a stark picture of the atrocities inflicted upon the people of northwestern Syria. The residents of these towns and cities, already burdened by the hardships of war, were further subjected to a relentless wave of violence that claimed the lives of their loved ones and disrupted their lives in unimaginable ways.
Following the recent arrival of conflicting parties, namely the Wagner militia and Putin's forces, to a settlement in Russia, the Russian warplanes stationed at the Hmeimim base have intensified their operations. Unfortunately, the consequences of their actions are borne by the innocent Syrians who find themselves trapped in one of the world's most dangerous conflict zones. These Syrians inhabit a small geographical area, characterized by limited agricultural resources. Regrettably, the Russian warplanes employ their power not against the perpetrators of the conflict but against the vulnerable workers and farmers. They resort to burning wheat crops with missiles and targeting farmers with airstrikes, perpetuating a state of panic, anxiety, and food scarcity. It appears to be a calculated strategy aimed at starving the Syrians and forcing them to rely on aid delivered through the regime in order to avoid starvation.
Humanitarian activist Samer Al-Ali voices a grave concern, suggesting that Russia seems to possess an international license to kill Syrian civilians. In the face of the Security Council and United Nations resolutions, international condemnations, and reservations, the world has been unable to protect the Syrian population from relentless violence that has persisted for over 12 years. This has allowed the Russians to act with impunity. Alongside Russia, other actors such as the Iranians, the Assad regime, Hezbollah militias, al-Nujaba, and others have targeted the Syrians, systematically destroying their land and economic infrastructure. Their actions aim to consolidate power under Bashar al-Assad, who carries a criminal record marred by thousands of crimes and massacres.
These distressing realities underscore the urgent need for the international community to address the ongoing atrocities and protect the Syrian people from further harm. The continued suffering of innocent Syrians at the hands of various actors demands a concerted effort to bring an end to this protracted conflict and secure a future of peace, stability, and justice for the Syrian population.