By Times staff
8:02 AM PST, November 27, 2012
AMMAN, Jordan -- At least 18 people were killed Tuesday morning when Syrian government warplanes struck an olive press factory on the outskirts of Idlib city, opposition activists said.
The building was hit by more than five rockets in an attack that also left 23 injured, said Ahmad Aasi, an opposition activist in Idlib. Those killed were farmers bringing olives from the local harvest and workers at the factory, he said.
"They are targeting any gathering of people to kill the largest number possible," Aasi said. "And the press factory today had a large number of people because it's currently the olive season."
Other public gatherings have been struck in the past. Bakeries have been a frequent target of government rockets and missiles, often leaving scores dead and injured because the few bakeries still operating are inundated with customers.
The olive press factory was one of the few that has remained open in Idlib province, and farmers from around the area had come to have their crop turned into olive oil, a staple of the Syrian diet.
Idlib province, in northern Syria along the border with Turkey, is a mostly agricultural area but output has dwindled as the ongoing conflict has disrupted workers' ability to reach farmland or forced them to flee the region. Produce available at the markets is not enough to meet local needs, Aasi said.
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