Air strikes hit refugee camp in northern Syria, kill dozens

At least 30 reportedly killed after an air strike hits a Syrian refugee camp close to the Turkish border.

Photo by: Twitter
Photo by: Twitter

Updated May 6, 2016

Air strikes on a Syrian refugee camp in the north of the country have killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens, the head of Turkish charity IHH, Abdussalam Shareef, told TRTWorld.

The incident occurred near Sarmada in northern Idlib Province, close to the Turkish border.

Exclusive footage obtained by TRTWorld depicts scenes of chaos as civilians in the makeshift camp flee for safety shortly after the incident.

It is still uncertain whether the air strikes were carried out by regime forces or Russian warplanes. 

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, women and children are among the dead, and the death toll is expected to rise because of the number of seriously injured people.

"There were two aerial strikes that hit this makeshift camp for refugees who have taken refuge from fighting in southern Aleppo and Palmyra. The camp took two direct hits. I heard many tents were on fire," Abu Ibrahim al Sarmadi, an activist from the nearby town of Atmeh - who has been speaking to people near the affected camp - told Reuters.

He said people who were wounded in the attack were rushed to the Bab al Hawa border crossing for treatment in Turkey.

US condemnation

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday condemned the air strikes on the refugee camp. 

"There is no justifiable excuse for carrying out an air strike against innocent civilians who have already once fled their homes to escape violence," Earnest said at the daily press briefing.

"These individuals are in the most desperate situation imaginable, and there is no justification for carrying out military action that's targeting them."

United Nations aid chief Stephen O'Brien said he was horrified and sickened by what had happened and called for an investigation.

"If this obscene attack is found to be a deliberate targeting of a civilian structure, it could amount to a war crime," O'Brien said in a statement. "I call for an immediate, impartial and independent investigation into this deadly incident."

Sarmada lies about 30 km (20 miles) west of Aleppo, where a cessation of hostilities agreement brokered by Russia and the United States had brought a measure of relief on Thursday.

A general view shows a damaged street with sandbags used as barriers in Aleppo's Saif al Dawla district, Syria March 6, 2015. [Reuters]

But fighting continued nearby and regime leader Bashar al Assad said in a telegram to Russian President Vladimir Putin his army would not accept anything less than "attaining final victory" and "crushing the aggression" by rebels in Aleppo, according to state media.

"We call on Russia to urgently address this totally unacceptable statement," US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a briefing. "It's clearly an effort by Assad to push his agenda, but it is incumbent on Russia to assert influence on that regime to maintain the cessation of hostilities."

Toner sought to address confusion over the timeline for the cessation of hostilities, with Syrian state media saying the army would abide by a "regime of calm" in Aleppo for 48 hours and the State Department emphasising it was open-ended.

Russia blocked a British-drafted UN Security Council statement, which would have condemned the surge in violence in Aleppo and attacks against civilians.

"There is one country that could not agree it and it's Russia," Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters. "That does speak volumes about their support for protection of the Assad regime."

TRTWorld and agencies