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Syria: 20 civilians killed in Idlib strikes

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — At least 20 civilians were killed on Tuesday in Syrian regime bombings in Idlib province, in northwestern Syria, where the regime recaptured the symbolic city of Kafranbel, said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

According to the OSDH, nine children are among the victims of air strikes and artillery fire carried out on the city of Idlib and the localities of Binnig and Maaret Misreen.

“Ten civilians, including six children, died in airstrikes by the Syrian regime on the locality of Maaret Misreen in the province of Idlib, while six civilians were killed in the town of Idlib, including a schoolboy and three teachers, in artillery fire targeting several schools,” SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahmane told AFP.

“Four other civilians, including a mother and two children, died in the bombing of Damascus in the town of Binnich,” said Abdel Rahmane.

Save The Children strongly deplored the deaths of civilians in Binnich, calling for schools to be spared.

“Schools must be refuges for children, even in a conflict zone,” said organization director Sonia Khush.

“Today’s attacks are another sign that the fighting in north-western Syria has reached catastrophic levels of violence against children and civilians.”

Civilians “are still confronted with daily terror (…). Nowhere is safe, not even school,” continued the director of the NGO.

On Monday, the UN warned that the fighting was “dangerously” approaching the IDP camps, risking a “bloodbath”.

In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday “deeply concerned” about the situation.

– “Capitulation” –

About fifty kilometers south of Binnig and Maaret Misreen, the town of Kafranbel was taken over on Tuesday by the Syrian regime, supported by Russian aviation, announced the OSDH.

This locality, located in the south of the province of Idlib, is one of the first cities to have rallied to the anti-Bashar al-Assad protest.

The regime has also taken over 18 other villages and localities in southern Idlib in the past 48 hours, according to the SOHR.

In recent weeks, the Syrian regime has been able to conquer almost half of the province of Idlib, controlled for years by the jihadists of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham, ex-Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, and rebel groups.

Since December, Damascus has been carrying out a major offensive in northwestern Syria with the support of the Russian air force. It killed more than 400 civilians, according to the OSDH, and displaced nearly 900,000 people according to the UN, the most massive exodus in such a short period since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.

Among the displaced, 170,000 civilians live in the open air or in unfinished buildings, due to lack of space in crowded IDP camps.

The Idleb region – which also includes segments of the neighboring provinces of Latakia, Aleppo and Hama – is home to three million civilians, half of whom have already been displaced from other regions recaptured by the regime.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday rejected calls for a ceasefire, saying it would be a “surrender to the terrorists”.

The war in Syria started in 2011 and killed more than 380,000 people and displaced several million people.

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