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27 dead in Idlib after suspected air strike near market square

Heavily damaged buildings are seen at a marketplace after the Assad Regime carried out air strikes in Idlib Syria on 23 March 2018 [Ahmed Rahhal/Anadolu Agency]

A suspected Russian airstrike in the north-western Syrian city of Idlib has left 27 people dead and over 150 injured, according to the Syrian Civil Defence unit, the White Helmets.

A residential block in the neighbourhood of Wadi Naseem suffered severe damage due to the impact of the strike last night, with most of the building collapsing, trapping residents in the rubble.

Volunteers with the White Helmets worked throughout the night to rescue injured from the debris; many of the victims were children.

Activists have been unable to identify the source of the bombing so far, speculating as to whether it was the result of an airstrike or a car bomb. Many have attributed the attack to Syrian regime-ally Russia, which launches regular attacks on the opposition-held province.

READ: Explosives killed nearly 1,000 children in Syria in 2017

Last month, a Russian airstrike on a school in the village of Kafr Batikh killed 20 people 16 of whom were children. The incident marked the second massacre that week after 22 people were killed at a camp for internally displaced people in Hass, in the south of Idlib.

The Assad regime has intensified bombing on the opposition-held province in recent months, despite the region being a designated de-escalation zone as per the Astana agreement between Russia, Iran and Turkey. Some three million people, including tens of thousands who have fled from other areas in Syria, are believed to have taken refuge in the region, which also hosts numerous armed anti-government factions.

Last week, the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Ankara to discuss increasing security around the established "de-escalation zones". Despite releasing a statement after the meeting expressing their commitment to "speed up their efforts to ensure calm on the ground" in Syria, rifts prevented the three states on agreeing on how to reduce violence, with the stated common ground limited to humanitarian endeavours.

READ: UN: Security Council 'paralysed' after Syria gas attack

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