Assad regime, Russia shell earthquake-stricken northern Syria, say aid groups
Syrian regime and Russian forces shelled villages across northern Syria on Saturday, humanitarian response groups said, less than two weeks after thousands were killed in a devastating earthquake that hit the region.
Artillery shelling hit the villages of Qastoun, Al-Ziyara and Al-Sarmaniyeh in Hama governorate, according to the Syrian Civil Defence otherwise known as the White Helmets.
There were no known casualties in the shelling, the White Helmets said.
Artillery shelling by the regime forces and Russia targeted the outskirts of the villages of Qastoun, Al-Ziyara and Al-Sarmaniyeh, today, Saturday, February 18, our teams inspected the targeted areas and reported no casualties.#Syria pic.twitter.com/wfhZuHGFfO— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 18, 2023
The shelling occurred hot on the heels of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that has devastated much of southern Turkey and northern Syria and killed at least 45,000 people. At least 6,000 have died in Syria because of the quake, which struck on 6 February.
Unlike the rest of the country, much of northern Syria is under the control of opposition groups. Activists accused Bashar al-Assad's Russian-backed regime of shelling these areas in order to "destroy what is left after the quake".
Rescue workers in the region have been severely limited in their efforts due to a lack of resources and equipment, amid a slow international humanitarian response to the quake.
Before the quake, northern Syria was already reeling from close to 12 years of civil war in which more than 500,000 Syrians across the country have died.
Heavy bombing carried out by Damascus and Russia made buildings vulnerable during the earthquake, exacerbating the extent of the destruction, the White Helmets said soon after the disaster struck.