Syrian civilians reportedly killed in Russian airstrikes

Syrian civilians reportedly killed in Russian airstrikes
Video: Several civilians were killed in Russian airstrikes on Latakia in Syria, activists said on Tuesday as opposition factions met in the Saudi capital Riyadh to form a unified platform.
4 min read
09 December, 2015

A number of civilians were killed in Russian airstrikes on a village in the Latakia countryside, northwest Syria on Tuesday according to local activists. The reports from Latakia came as Syrian opposition groups held talks in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Russian warplanes carried out four airstrikes on the village of Marj al-Zawiya killing at least six civilians and injuring scores of others according to local activist Ahmad Haj Bakri.

"Russian warplanes also bombed locations close to al-Barnas village hospital, close to the Syrian-Turkish border, in addition to the villages of al-Eido and Ain al-Ghazal, leaving several people injured," Bakri told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Meanwhile, four civilians were killed in the town of Madaya in the Damascus countryside after the car they were travelling in exploded when it passed over a land mine.

"Six civilians including a woman were attempting to leave Madaya, northwest Damascus, when their car drove over landmines and exploded, killing four of them and injuring others," said Yasser Doumani, a local activist.

In the town of Hamouriya on the outskirts of Damascus, a child was killed and several civilians were injured after unidentified warplanes carried out two consecutive air raids.

Target Raqqa

The London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that several IS fighters including a commander were killed in coalition airstrikes on the city of Raqqa on Tuesday.

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Four IS militants including a child belonging to the group's "Cubs of the caliphate" wing were killed in an airstrike on the al-Hanaid checkpoint west of the city.

Strikes on the city centre and the outskirts of Raqqa killed seven IS militants including a commander according to the Syrian Observatory.

However the local activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered in Silence, said that an unidentified fighter jet bombed a busy market west of the town of Hazima on the outskirts of Raqqa resulting in the death of a woman and the injury of several others.

Growing diplomatic push

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition factions were meeting at a Saudi organised conference in the capital Riyadh on Tuesday. 

The three-day gathering will try to form a unified opposition delegation and a platform regarding what is meant to be a transitional period in Syria, officials who were invited said.

Previous attempts by international and regional powers have failed to unite the diverse Syrian opposition groups, whose differences have for years reflected the struggle for influence among the countries supporting them. 

But there has been a growing diplomatic push for a resolution to Syria's devastating conflict, which has seen more than 250,000 people killed and millions forced from their homes. 

"We will be negotiating Assad's departure," said Mustafa Osso, the vice president of the Syrian National Coalition, the main Western-backed opposition group. "If this regime stays, violence will continue in Syria and there will be no stability," he said, speaking from Turkey.

Most of the main rebel factions have been invited to the Riyadh talks, including the Free Syrian Army.

Also among the invited are two of the biggest, Jaysh al-Islam and the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham group that has been for months trying to improve its image and market itself as a moderate faction, said Ibrahim Hamidi, a journalist who covers Syrian affairs for the Saudi-owned newspaper Al Hayat.

Last month, top diplomats from 17 countries - including key international backers and opponents of Assad - agreed in Vienna on a fixed calendar for Syria that would see a transition government set up in six months and elections within 18 months.

Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the countries involved in the Vienna talksare set to meet in New York on 18 December.

"Depending on the outcome of both the Saudi-led conference of the opposition that is taking place in the next days, as well as a few other issues, it is our plan to try ... (to) have a meeting in New York on December 18," Kerry told reporters.