Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 June 2019

Syria regime bombardment kills 10 during Eid

Two children were among six people killed in regime strikes on the town of Kafr Aweid

Plumes of smoke rise following reported Syrian government forces' bombardment on the town of Khan Sheikhun in the southern countryside of the militant-held Idlib province, on June 5, 2019. AFP
Plumes of smoke rise following reported Syrian government forces' bombardment on the town of Khan Sheikhun in the southern countryside of the militant-held Idlib province, on June 5, 2019. AFP

Air strikes and shelling by regime forces killed 10 civilians in Syria's north-west on Wednesday, as residents marked the holiday of Eid Al Fitr, a war monitor said.

Two children were among six people killed in regime strikes on the town of Kafr Aweid in the militant-held province of Idlib, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The victims' relatives gathered at the town's graveyard on Wednesday afternoon as an excavator dug a large pit in the ground.

The scattered remains of one of the children were placed in a cardboard box before being buried, an AFP photographer said.

The corpse of another was covered in an embroidered blue sheath.

Another civilian died in regime shelling on the northern Hama countryside, also held by insurgents, said the Britain-based monitor.

Regime air strikes also hit a motorcycle in the Idlib town of Maaret Al Numan, killing a woman and her two children, said the Observatory.

Wednesday's attacks come amid an escalation in violence in parts of the country's northwest held by Syria's former Al Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al Sham.

A September deal was supposed to avert a full-out regime offensive on Idlib province and adjacent areas, home to around three million people, nearly half of whom have been displaced from other parts of Syria.

But the regime and its ally Russia have since late April ramped up deadly air strikes and rocket fire on the region, and fighters have clashed on its edges.

The bombardment of Idlib province and neighbouring areas has killed more than 300 people since late April, according to the Observatory.

It also displaced nearly 270,000 people in May alone, according to the UN.

A total of 24 health facilities and 35 schools have been hit in the latest escalation, according to the UN's humanitarian office.

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump urged Damascus and its allies to "stop bombing the hell" out of the militant-held region. But the regime appeared to ignore his warning.

Russia on Monday also blocked a UN Security Council statement criticising Syria's military campaign in the Idlib region.

The Kremlin insisted Monday that the Russian army was only targeting "terrorists" in Syria's Idlib region, which is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group dominated by former members of Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate.

It accused them of firing at civilians and Moscow's troops.

"Terrorist fire in Idlib is of course unacceptable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Measures are being taken to neutralise such firing positions."

The comments came in response to the tweet by Mr Trump.

The latest violence in Syria's north-west comes amid soaring tensions between Syria and neighbouring Israel. Syria accused Israel of targeting an air base in Homs province last week, reportedly killing five people, just hours after carrying out raids on military and intelligence posts south of Damascus that killed 10.

Analysts predict that President Bashar Al Assad and his allies will continue to chip away at the area, but not unleash a major assault that would create chaos on Turkey's doorstep.

The conflict in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people since it started in 2011.

Updated: June 6, 2019 01:32 PM

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