DIPLOMACY >Airstrike on Syrian mosque is war crime: Turkish Deputy PM

ÇANAKKALE – Anadolu Agency

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Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş on March 17 condemned the bombing of a mosque in northern Syria as a “war crime”.

An airstrike on a mosque in the village of Al-Jina, located west of Aleppo city towards the border with Idlib province, killed 58 people at night of March 16.

“This is a crime against humanity, this is a war crime,” Kurtulmuş told reporters in the northwestern province of Çanakkale. “Bombing civilians, people in the mosque, and a house of worship is unacceptable.”

It remained unclear who was responsible for the airstrike. Syrian and Russian warplanes operate in the area and the U.S. military said it carried out an air attack on al-Qaeda-linked militants on March 16 in Idlib but denied hitting a mosque.

“In the coming hours, it will come out who has conducted this attack,” Kurtulmuş said.

Civil defense official Yahya Javad said the attack also wounded dozens of others in the city’s Al-Etarip area.

"A warplane, which we believe was a Russian jet, bombed a mosque during prayer time in Jina village near the Al-Etarip district of Aleppo," he said.

Javad said civil defense officials tried to rescue people from the mosque's wreckage: "There were 200-300 people in the mosque [during the attack]."

He said the death toll could rise, despite efforts by civil defense teams to reach people trapped under the wreckage. 

He stressed: "Attacking a mosque with a jet cannot be accepted."

The airstrike came a day after suicide attacks in the capital Damascus killed at least 30 people on the sixth anniversary of the start of the conflict.


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