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Syria: Families mourn victims of Homs attack

A drone attack struck a military college as families were celebrating the graduation of new cadets
Relatives mourn during the funeral on 6 October of the victims of a drone attack that targeted a Syrian military academy in Homs a day earlier (AFP)
By Rasha Ibraheem in Homs, Syria

In Syria's Homs, families are still reeling from shock days after a drone attack on a graduation ceremony at a military academy killed dozens of people. 

"Today is the funeral of the three: my husband and two daughters," said Um Hasan, whose two other children were wounded and are receiving hospital treatment.

The attack on 5 October left casualties among civilians, including family members of graduates, and members of the armed forces who were in attendance at the military college. 

At least 123 people were killed in the attack, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian government put the number at 90.

"Whoever committed this brutal attack are not human, otherwise they would have thought about those they had targeted - innocent civilians and cadets who were at their graduation and not on war fronts," said Um Hasan, who was at the ceremony during the attack.

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"Until this moment, I haven't been able to tell one of my sons about the death of his father and sisters."

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Syrian army accused "armed terrorist organisations" and vowed to "respond with full force".

People who were at the scene described to Middle East Eye the moment of the attack. 

The ceremony had just ended, and families had spread around the college grounds to celebrate and congratulate the newly graduated officers, when the courtyard was rocked by a huge explosion.

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One mother told MEE: "We had just found my son, and, as our family members exchanged hugs, we heard a big explosion. It was a moment of unspeakable horror. I saw at least 20 bodies around me of people who were immediately killed.

"Shards penetrated my hip, arms and right foot. My sister-in-law was blown away by the explosion, which also knocked down my husband and son."

In al-Baath Hospital in the city, the wards quickly filled with the wounded. The hospital had absorbed the initial wave of patients, admitting 40 cases, according to a source at the hospital. 

"It was a rough day in Homs," said a medical care spokesperson for the hospital, adding that there were still 20 people receiving treatment.

"The hardest cases we saw were four children, aged seven to nine. They came in four hours after the attack, and two underwent operations on the stomach, and the other two had orthopaedic surgery."

According to the health ministry, 35 of the victims were women and children, while 277 people were wounded. 

"I was attending my uncle's graduation ceremony, and a missile suddenly struck among the crowd," nine-year-old Rabee told MEE.

"I saw fire and dismembered people and my belly hurt. I underwent surgery in the middle of the night, and they took shrapnel out."

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