Assad regime, Russia shell earthquake-stricken northern Syria, say aid groups

Assad regime, Russia shell earthquake-stricken northern Syria, say aid groups
Russia and Syrian regime forces shelled villages in northern Syria less than two weeks after an earthquake devastated the area and left thousands dead.
2 min read
19 February, 2023
Activists accused the government of striking northern Syria to try and 'destroy what is left' after the quake [Getty]

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.

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.

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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.