On Sunday, around 15 people were killed and wounded after an unidentified man targeted a religious ceremony, which was held to celebrate the opening of the Hagia Sophia Church in the city of al-Suqaylabiyah, in the northwestern countryside of Hama, central Syria.
“A rocket fired by terrorist organizations landed on a gathering in the city of Suqaylabiyah in Hama countryside, resulting in the ascension of two martyrs and 12 people being wounded,” the official SANA news agency reported. “The rocket targeted a religious ceremony celebrating the opening of the Hagia Sophia Church in the city of Saqilbia in the northwestern countryside of Hama, in central Syria.”
However, a source in the operations room of al-Fath al-Mubeen denied the regime’s account of the bombing of religious groups in Saqilibia. It indicated that the report comes in the context of the regime’s narrative about promoting the protection of minorities from radical factions and the opposition.
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The source explained that the accused factions did not carry out any rocket or artillery fire towards the city in revenge for martyrs who died during the al-Jadida massacre carried out by Russian planes on Friday. It pointed out that the factions’ attacks had focused on the regime’s gatherings near the front lines of Idleb and Western Aleppo countryside.
The source added that reporting by the regime’s media — that the factions have deliberately targeted the religious gathering — is inaccurate. The attack is said to have come in response to the Turkish government, which re-converted the Hagia Sofia church into a mosque. The source stressed that the factions are starting from their goal of overthrowing the regime; this is not a strategy adopted by Turkey, whatever Turkey’s ultimate objective may be.
“Drones belonging to terrorist organizations in the skies of Suqaylabiyah are now being dealt with by army and national defence units,” said pro-Syrian regime pages on social media.
The church’s foundation stone was laid in July 2020 by Nabeel al-Abdullah, commander of the Russian-backed National Defense militia, in Suqaylabiyah. Also present was a Russian military delegation from the Hemeimim Air Base. The ceremony followed Turkey’s announcement that the Hagia Sophia church in Istanbul would be converted into a mosque, as it was 84 years ago.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.