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Russian air strikes kill more than twenty civilians, including children, in northwestern Syria


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Air strikes by Russian aviation Tuesday in opposition-held areas in northwestern Syria have killed 23 civilians, including seven children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. On the other side, the Syrian regime accused the opposition and jihadist factions of firing rockets that landed near the city of Aleppo, killing three civilians.

23 civilians were killed in a Russian air strike on Tuesday in Northwest of SyriaAccording to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as renewed strikes tighten the noose around the last major stronghold of jihadists and armed factions in the country.

For its part, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported that the retaliatory missile attacks attributed to jihadists and armed factions resulted in the killing of three other civilians near the government-controlled city of Aleppo in northern Syria.

The observatory indicated that ten civilians, including an entire family of eight, including six children, were killed in raids in the western Aleppo governorate, an area adjacent to the Idlib governorate controlled by jihadists and militant factions.

“One of the strikes targeted a house on the outskirts of Kfartaal village, which resulted in the death of the entire family, including six children,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the observatory.

Two civilians were also killed by air strikes in Idlib governorate, according to the observatory.

Later, the observatory announced that “11 civilians were killed in Russian raids on the western areas of Aleppo and south of Idlib governorate, raising the death toll to 23 dead, including 13 children.”

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Idlib governorate, which is mostly under the control of the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and which has less powerful fighting factions, has been exposed since mid-December to an escalation in shelling concentrated in the countryside’s southern and southeastern provinces, where regime forces have made progress in controlling dozens of villages and towns.

Abdel-Rahman added, “The bombing has occurred three days ago, on and around Idlib governorate, especially west of Aleppo, which is exclusively Russian.”

He pointed out, “They want to keep the jihadists and factions away from Aleppo, the city, and the Aleppo-Damascus road.”

An imminent attack?

He believed that this shelling “may be a prelude to a ground operation” on the ground, especially since “the regime sent crowds to the outskirts of the city of Aleppo during the past weeks.”

This comes in the wake of the killing of at least seven civilians, including five children, in raids launched by its Russian warplanes in Aleppo Governorate, according to the observatory.

Since December, Russian forces and their ally Russia have stepped up their operations in the region, specifically in the southern Idlib countryside, which has pushed about 350,000 people to move to safer north regions, according to the United Nations.

After weeks of violent bombing, Russia announced on the ninth of this month to reach a ceasefire agreement that Turkey later confirmed.

However, the ceasefire lasted only a few days before the warplanes since the middle of last week resumed escalation in the area.

Damascus reiterates its intention to restore the entire Idlib and its surroundings.

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The Syrian agency confirmed the death of two women and a child in the city of Aleppo.

Russia is deploying its forces throughout Syria to support the army, while a group of Russian private security personnel is working on the ground.

Moscow’s military intervention in the fall of 2015, after four years of the Syrian conflict, helped keep President Bashar al-Assad in power.

Idlib governorate suffers from a serious humanitarian situation, with relief groups warning of an unprecedented wave of displacement. It is inhabited by at least three million people, many of them in need of humanitarian assistance.

The International Rescue Committee has warned that another 650,000 people, most of them children and women, may also flee if the violence continues.

/ AFP

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