ATMEH, Syria — At least 14 people were killed, and 70 wounded in a car bombing on Sunday near a field hospital in Atmeh, Syria on the Turkish border. The town also serves as a main supply line for rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, according to activists.
The attack shattered relative calm in a region of far northern Syria that has been a safe haven for refugees fleeing the civil war.
The bomb was situated amid olive groves opposite the Turkish village of Bukulmex in Hatay province. The target was a hospital owned by Ghassan Abboud, a pro-opposition businessman who owns Orient Television.
Orient Television, a Dubai-based broadcaster that broadcasts in Syria, has been vehement in its criticism of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al Qaeda splinter group that has seized several strategic areas along the border and choked supply lines to more moderate rebel groups in the interior.
Atmeh has been held by a loose coalition of Islamist rebels, including al-Nusra front and The Islamic Front, who drove out the ISIL fighters from the town two months ago.
Several wounded Syrians were brought to a state hospital in Reyhanli, Turkey with some in critical condition, according to a doctor at the hospital.
Abdallah Saleh, a witness:
“The facade of the hospital was blown off. Most of the casualties were transported to Bab al-Hawa (crossing) and to another hospital in Atmeh. Some of the worst cases reached Turkey.”
Zakwan al-Hadid, an opposition activist in Idlib:
“Orient has been relentless in criticizing the ISIL and the ISIL had already kidnapped several Orient journalists. The regime also stands to benefit from a safe haven like Atmeh being targeted.”
Patients, doctors were among the casualties, according to Orient Foundation.
Orient Foundation statement:
“This barbaric attack took place against a hospital that treats the wounded from the bombs of death the regime is using on liberated areas. Orient Foundation accuses the Assad regime of being behind the attack.”
Now, Islamist fighters, including jihadists from across the world, have eclipsed secular groups and are also at war with each other in much of Syria, with the Nusra Front and other Islamists fighting the ISIL — a group disavowed by al Qaeda.