Children killed in regime airstrikes on Syria's Idlib: monitor

Children killed in regime airstrikes on Syria's Idlib: monitor
Syrian regime bombardment has killed 14 civilians including seven children in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said Saturday, in the latest deadly raids on the embattled opposition bastion.
3 min read
06 July, 2019
Seven children were among those killed in the airstrikes [Getty]
Seven children were among at least 14 civilians killed after Syrian regime bombardment in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said on Saturday, in the latest deadly raids on the embattled opposition bastion.

Warplanes and helicopters carried out airstrikes on Mahambel village in Idlib province late on Friday, killing scores of civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A woman was also killed early on Saturday in regime rocket fire on the outskirts of the town of Khan Sheikhun in the south of the province, the Britain-based war monitor said.

Idlib, a region of some three million people, many of whom fled former rebel-held areas retaken by the government, is the last major bastion of opposition to the Russia-backed Damascus government after eight years of civil war.

The region on Turkey's doorstep is administered by Syria's former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but other jihadist and rebel groups are also present.

Idlib is supposed to be protected from a major regime assault by a September deal between Moscow and Ankara, but Damascus and its Russian ally have ramped up their deadly bombardment of the region since late April.

More than 520 civilians have been killed since then, according to the Observatory.

The United Nations says 25 health facilities in the region have been hit, the latest including the second attack in two months on an underground hospital in the town of Kafranbel on Thursday.

"The attacks happened despite the fact that the coordinates of this hospital had previously been shared with the parties to the conflict in a deliberate, carefully planned effort to prevent any attacks on it," anUN official said on Friday.

"I am horrified by the ongoing attacks on civilian areas and civilian infrastructure as the conflict in northwest Syria continues," said Mark Cutts, UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syrian crisis.

Syria's war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

Constitutional committee

The latest raids came after reports revealed a decision on which members will make up the Syrian Constitutional Committee are close to being finalised, following an announcement from the Turkish foreign minister, signalling an important step forward in the faltering 18-month peace effort.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu said on Thursday that the deadlock over selecting the final six names for the committee had been resolved, meanwhile Russian sources claimed there had been an "important breakthrough" at meetings between the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The 150-member committee, intended to include members across political and societal factors, will be tasked with drafting a constitution for post-war Syria, a key development towards ending the eight-year conflict.

Discussions on the committee have been bogged down in disagreements between the UN and Bashar al-Assad's regime over the composition of three lists of members from the regime, opposition and civil society and religious groups.

The regime and the opposition have each finalised their 50 names, however the remaining list - composed of civil society and religious groups - has been hotly contested by each side.

However Pederson told Russia's TASS news agency on Thursday he is "quietly hopeful" the list of members will be finalised "soon".

A Russian source close to the Syrian negotiation confirmed to The New Arab a dispute over the final six members had been resolved, and will likely be announced upon Pedersen’s visit to Damascus beginning 10 July.

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