On Sunday evening, Idlib City witnessed one of the largest bombings to hit the city over the course of the country’s war. The bombing, which struck the Thalatheen Street of the Thawra District is believed to have killed 25 people so far, injuring around 60 people.
It is unknown why the district was targeted. It is a residential district (which accounts for the large number of civilian casualties) with no bases. However, there are reports that the epicentre of the explosion was a community centre used by Ajnad al-Kavkaz, a group and network for Chechen militants fighting in Syria.
Furthermore, the explosion took place at a time when many people were leaving the Saad Mosque, with many of them caught in the blast. The explosion, which left a crater in its wake, was powerful enough to cause the flats in the immediate vicinity to collapse, with many others suffering heavy damage and fires. Since the explosion, rescue teams have been working around the clock to pull people out of the rubble. It is feared that entire families have perished in the explosion.
The general consensus was that the explosion was caused by a car bomb. However, since then, there have been claims that the explosion may have been caused by an airstrike or even a cruise missile. So far, all the claims remain unsubstantiated.
The perpetrator of the bombing also remains unknown. Many locals here, as well as members of the Syrian Opposition, were quick to pin the blame on the Syrian Government whose forces are making rapid gains along the southern Idlib countryside, getting progressively closer to Syria’s only Opposition-held provincial capital. If the attack was indeed an airstrike or a missile, this would almost certainly be the case. If the attack was caused by a car bomb, however, there are far more options. Idlib City and the surrounding countryside has been the scene of many bombings and assassinations over the past year, a situation that got worse since Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) took over the city in 2016.