Several civilians, dozens of fighters killed in Syria’s Idlib

The Syrian government, backed by Russia, began bombarding the last rebel-held territory of Idlib in April.

Airstrikes on Idlib de-escalation zone
Victims are being evacuated following air raids by the Syrian government on Idlib [File: Anadolu Agency]

At least seven civilians have been killed by Syrian government air raids on the northwest province of Idlib, the White Helmets civil defence group has said.

Three people have been killed in an air raid on the town of Maaret al-Numan, while in al-Bara, three children and their father were killed after an air attack on the town centre on Saturday.

A total of 15 others were wounded, the White Helmets said.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, fighting between government forces and armed opposition fighters left 34 dead.

Twenty-six troops and pro-government fighters were killed, as well as eight fighters from the opposition, the war monitor said.

Last September, Turkey and Russia signed an agreement to turn Idlib, which has a population of three million people, into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression would be expressly prohibited.

But the deal was never fully implemented, as armed fighters refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarised zone.

The last territory held by the opposition – mostly under the banner of former al-Qaeda affiliate Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) – Idlib has been under bombardment by the Syrian government and its ally Russia since April.

Turkey said Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it was unable to stop the Syrian government’s continued bombardments.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us,'” he said.

His comments came after Moscow this week said a new ceasefire had been secured in the province following weeks of government bombardments – a claim that was denied by Ankara.

At least 300,000 people have been driven from their homes due to the violence, while more than 300 civilians have been killed since fighting broke out.

Ammunition depot explosion

Separately, an explosion hit a Syrian army ammunition depot on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

The blast in a military area in Dummar, a northwest suburb of Damascus, was caused by a fire that started in some nearby dry vegetation and extended to the depot, the agency added, citing a military source.

The sound of the explosion was heard in most parts of Damascus, SANA said.

There were no immediate reports of potential casualties.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies