On 7-8 September, several missiles were reportedly fired by al-Qaeda-linked rebels toward the predominately Christian town of Mhardeh, Syria. Reports indicate that the missiles carried cluster bombs, killing at least 10 civilians and seriously wounding at least 20 others. Two more died later in hospital.
Five of the dead were children under 15, three from the same family, whose mother and grandmother were also killed. The children’s father is in hospital.
“Do you feel that you are safe now?” asked a reporter for Norwegian newspaper Dagen, which has links to Mhardeh. “All we can do now is to pray,” a local source told its reporter. “The only thing we feel is grief. Please pray for us.”
Mhardeh, reported to be one of the most densely populated Christian villages in Syria, has received thousands of internally displaced people from other parts of the country.
Mhardeh is controlled by the Syrian government, which has retaliated by attacking nearby towns as part of the build-up to the offensive against Idlib Province. The province is the last remaining stronghold controlled by the opposition.
Sources: International Christian Concern, World Watch Monitor