Russian strikes kill seven in rebel-held Syria: monitor
Russian air strikes Sunday on Syria’s northwest killed at least seven people, including four civilians, in retaliation for deadly drone attacks blamed on rebel forces, a war monitor said.
“Four civilians were killed in Jisr al-Shughur and three rebel fighters were killed nearby by Russia air strikes,” Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
At least 25 civilians were wounded in the strikes on the rebel-held territory in Idlib province, added Abdel Rahman, whose Britain-based monitor has a wide network of sources inside war-torn Syria.
The death toll was likely to rise, he said.
Russian forces, which back the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, were responding to rebel drone strikes over the past week that killed four civilians including two children, according to Abdel Rahman.
Damascus, with Russian and Iranian support, has clawed back much of the ground lost in the early stages of Syria’s conflict, which erupted in 2011 when the government brutally repressed pro-democracy protests.
The last pocket of armed opposition to the regime includes large swathes of Idlib province and parts of the neighbouring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, headed by ex-members of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda franchise, is the dominant group in the area but other rebel groups are also active there with varying degrees of Turkish backing.
Syria’s war has killed more than half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.