Russian airstrike on Idlib farm kills 16 displaced Syrians

Russian airstrike on Idlib farm kills 16 displaced Syrians
A Russian airstrike on a farm sheltering displaced people in Idlib province has killed 16 civilians ahead of a meeting between Turkish president Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Putin.
2 min read
05 March, 2020
Rescue workers rushed to evacuate the victims of the massacre [Getty]
Russian airstrikes on Thursday killed at least 16 civilians and injured 18 others in Idlib province, the last rebel-held area of Syria, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported.

At least two children were among the dead.

The strikes after midnight targeted displaced civilians who had taken refuge in a poultry farm outside the town of Maaret Misrin in Idlib province.

An AFP correspondent saw the bodies of some of the massacre's victims wrapped in thick winter blankets at a local hospital.

A rescuer carried in the body of a baby girl, her mouth filled with grey debris and her pink pyjamas caked in dust.

At the site of the strikes, two large one-storey out-buildings lay mostly in rubble near green orchards.

The strikes destroyed the poultry farm. Dozens of surviving white chickens picked through the dust, as rescuers operated bulldozers to comb through the debris.

Read also: Syrian girl taught to laugh at bombs resettles in Turkey

Since December, Russian backed regime forces have waged a deadly campaign against Idlib province, killing around 800 civilians and displacing approximately a million people from their homes.

People have had to take shelter in the open air, amid bitterly cold conditions, and there is no guarantee of safety from indiscriminate regime and Russian strikes.

Even before that campaign, Idlib was home to three million people, around half of them already displaced from other parts of the war-torn country.

The strikes comes as the leaders of Russia and Turkey meet in Moscow to discuss the situation in Idlib, where Ankara backs some rebel groups and has become directly involved in fighting in recent weeks, launching 'Operation Spring Shield' against regime troops on 27 February.

On Thursday the Turkish National Defence Ministry claimed in a statement to have "neutralized" 184 regime troops and destroyed dozens of military vehicles over the previous day.

"Four tanks, 5 cannons/MLRSs [Multi Launch Rocket System], 3 anti-tank weapons, 8 military vehicles, 2 machine gun vehicles [and] 2 armoured vehicles were destroyed in the past 24 hours," said the statement.

Syria's war has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 after the Assad regime brutally suppressed peaceful pro-democracy protests.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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