At least 18 killed in Syrian government attacks on Idlib province

A young citizen journalist is among civilians killed in Syrian and Russian air raids, a war monitor says.

    Sunday's deaths increased the number of civilians killed by Syrian government or Russian bombardments to 682 since the offensive began in September, according to a war monitor [File: While helmets via AP]
    Sunday's deaths increased the number of civilians killed by Syrian government or Russian bombardments to 682 since the offensive began in September, according to a war monitor [File: While helmets via AP]

    Air attacks have killed at least 18 people in rebel-held Idlib in northwestern Syria on Sunday, including a young citizen journalist, according to rescue workers and a war monitor.

    Anas al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets rescue group who also contributed to AFP, the news agency said, adding that he was killed in his hometown of Khan Sheikhun while trying to film the air raids.

    Government air raids killed 17 other civilians including seven children in other parts of the region, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

    It said the death toll from the day's bombings could rise further as dozens of people were wounded, some severely, with some trapped under rubble.

    The White Helmets, whose name derives from the distinctive hard hats that its members wear, said it "mourns the fall of a hero ... a volunteer and media activist with the Civil Defence Centre in Idlib," in a Twitter post. 

    Months of intense air raids

    The group also posted tweets showing friends and family gather to bid farewell to Dyab, with his body wrapped in a white shroud. 

    His mother and father, fellow citizen journalists, and rescue workers watched him being buried in the city of Idlib, as ongoing bombardment prevented him from being laid to rest in his hometown of Khan Sheikhoun.

    President Bashar al-Assad's government and Russia have stepped up their deadly bombardment of Idlib since late April, despite a September buffer zone deal to protect the region of some three million people from a massive military assault.

    The deal signed by Russia and rebel backer Turkey has never been fully implemented.

    Former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham in January took full administrative control of the Idlib region, although other rebels are also present in the region.

    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.

    SOURCE: News agencies