Regime bombings kill 14 civilians in northwest Syria

BEIRUT (AFP) – Syrian regime bombardment has killed 14 civilians including seven children in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said yesterday, in the latest deadly raids on the embattled opposition bastion.

Warplanes and helicopters late Friday carried out air strikes on Mahambel village in Idlib province, killing 13 civilians including the seven children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A woman was also killed early Saturday in regime rocket fire on the outskirts of the town of Khan Sheikhun in the south of the province, the Britain-based war monitor said.

Idlib, a region of some three million people, many of whom fled former rebel-held areas retaken by the government, is the last major bastion of opposition to the Russia-backed Damascus government after eight years of civil war. The region on Turkey’s doorstep is administered by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but other extremist and rebel groups are also present.

Idlib is supposed to be protected from a major regime assault by a September deal between Moscow and Ankara, but Damascus and its Russian ally have ramped up their deadly bombardment of the region since late April.

More than 520 civilians have been killed since then, according to the Observatory.

The United Nations said 25 health facilities in the region have been hit, the latest including the second attack in two months on an underground hospital in the town of Kafranbel on Thursday.