Russian air strikes on the north western Syrian province of Idlib have killed at least 33 people since yesterday, including a pregnant woman and her unborn child, according to Reuters.
Most of the dead were in Saraqib, a town on the main highway linking to the government-held city of Aleppo and 20 kilometres northwest of the Abu Al-Duhur Military Airbase, which government forces and allied militias captured from insurgents.
Mustafa Al-Haj Youssef, head of the Idlib civil defence known as the White Helmets, said more than 35 people had been wounded in the airstrikes, one of which reportedly struck a vegetable market at six o’clock this morning, north of Saraqib.
“Directly after [the first attack], the hospital where the wounded were transferred was targeted, causing injuries among the medical staff, and the hospital went fully out of service,” he told reporters over the phone.
In a video released by the White Helmets showing the aftermath of one of yesterday’s attacks, medics can be seen pulling people out from the rubble of destroyed buildings and transferring the wounded to hospital.
— الدفاع المدني السوري (@SyriaCivilDefe) January 28, 2018
Idlib and its surrounding areas have been under the control of opposition groups since 2015, forming a strategic stronghold for numerous factions. Despite being a designated de-escalation zone as per the Astana agreement between Russia, Iran and Turkey, the region faces regular shelling and has been subject to an intensified assault by regime forces in recent months.
Earlier this month, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, expressed concerns about the situation in Idlib, calling on its de-escalation status to be respected.
They estimated that escalated fighting in southern Idlib and northern rural Hama, between regime forces and opposition groups, have caused the additional displacement of over 200,000 people, many of whom had fled to the north of the country from other regions of Syria.
Numerous NGOs, including Amnesty International, have recorded the systematic targeting of hospitals by Russia and the Syrian regime, which amounts to war crimes.