Bombing of Idlib kills ten civilians in Saturday violence

Bombing of Idlib kills ten civilians in Saturday violence
At least 10 civilians have been killed in regime airstrikes on Saturday, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Syrian Civil Defense group.
2 min read
15 June, 2019
Syrian and Russian forces have waged a brutal air campaign on Idlib [Getty]

Syrian regime airstrikes and intense shelling on rebel-held areas in northwest Syria have claimed the lives of dozens of people, say Syrian opposition activists.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition's Syrian Civil Defense said at least 10 civilians have been killed in Saturday's airstrikes and shelling of rebel-held villages and towns in Idlib province by Russian and regime forces.

Syrian state media said militants shelled government-held areas causing material damage.

The Observatory said that Saturday's fighting alone left 26 troops and pro-government gunmen dead as well as eight militants.

Six weeks of violence has driven nearly 300,000 people from their homes. Many are living under olive trees, in tents or unfinished buildings, crammed into overcrowded shared rooms.

The Idlib region of some three million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as fighters refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarised zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian government and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia's "excuse" that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime's continued bombardments in the last rebel bastion of Idlib.

"In Syria, who are the regime's guarantors? Russia and Iran," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

"Thus we do not accept the excuse that 'We cannot make the regime listen to us'," he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new ceasefire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments - a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria's war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and jihadists.

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