Artillery fired from government-controlled area kills eight civilians and injures others in Idlib province
Associated Press in Beirut
Artillery fire from government-controlled territory and airstrikes killed at least eight civilians in Syria’s last rebel enclave on Saturday, most of them children, rescue workers and a war monitor said.
The shelling in Ibleen, a village in the southern Idlib province, hit the home of Subhi al-Assi, killing him, his wife and three of his children in their sleep, according to the rescue service known as White Helmets and Idlib’s health directorate. Al-Assi was an administrator in a local health centre.
Shelling also struck the home of a volunteer for the White Helmets, also known as Syria Civil Defence, killing his two children. The volunteer, Omar al-Omar, and his wife were wounded, according to the White Helmets.
In a nearby village, the White Helmets reported that another child was killed and four others from the same family were wounded.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also reported the shelling and casualties. The SOHR said the shelling was followed by airstrikes by suspected Russian warplanes that hit areas west of Idlib city.
The White Helmets said one of its centres was targeted and destroyed in the air raid, and five volunteers were slightly wounded. A water station in the area was also hit and put out of service, the White Helmets said.
In recent weeks there has been rising violence between government forces and insurgents on the edge of the last rebel stronghold in the north-western province of Idlib, despite a truce brokered last year.
The truce was negotiated between Turkey, which supports Syria’s opposition, and Russia, the Syrian government’s main backer. At the time, it halted a crushing Russian-backed government air and ground campaign aimed at retaking the region where nearly 4 million people, most of them displaced, live.
Residents of the enclave are dependent on humanitarian aid brought in from across the border with Turkey. The region is dominated by insurgent groups, among them is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group once linked to al-Qaida.