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Russian-led strikes on rebel-held northwest Syria kill 18

Wreckage of a houses are seen after Russian forces carried out air strikes over at al Jinah villahe in Idlib, a de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria, on 20 January, 2020 [Ibrahim Dervis/Anadolu Agency]
Wreckage of a houses are seen after Russian forces carried out air strikes over at al Jinah villahe in Idlib, a de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria, on 20 January, 2020 [Ibrahim Dervis/Anadolu Agency]

Russian-led airstrikes killed at least 18 people on Tuesday in northwest Syria where a major government offensive to clear out rebels has sent tens of thousands of people fleeing toward the border with Turkey, residents, and rescuers said.

They said a family of eight including six children were killed in the rural village of Kfar Taal west of government-controlled Aleppo while another four civilians were killed in Maardabseh in the southeast of Idlib province.

“God take revenge on all tyrants. There is no one else left in my family,” Abu Yasser, 71, a relative of the family wiped out in Kfar Taal, said in a voice recording sent to Reuters.

At least eight other civilians were killed in other strikes by Russian and Syrian government warplanes on rural opposition areas that have been hit hard since the Russian-led military campaign, supplemented by Iranian militias, began in December.

It has left dozens of towns in ruins and knocked down hospitals sand schools, UN aid agencies say.

READ: 27,000 more civilians flee Idlib de-escalation zone

UN officials said last week a humanitarian crisis in the Idlib region of far northwestern Syria, the last significant rebel redoubt in Syria after almost nine years of civil war, had worsened with at least 350,000 civilians now on the run.

Another half a million people fled earlier bouts of fighting to the safety of camps near the border of Turkey, which backs some rebel factions in the northwest.

Syrian refugees and Assad - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

Syrian refugees and Assad – Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

The latest offensive has brought President Bashar al-Assad’s military campaign closer to heavily populated central areas of Idlib, where nearly 3 million people are trapped, according to aid charities and UN agencies.

Moscow and Damascus deny accusations of indiscriminate bombing of civilians, saying they are fighting jihadist militants who they say have stepped up their attacks on civilians in Aleppo city in northern Syria.

Syrian state television said two women and a child were killed in a rocket attack by “terrorists” – its standard term for anti-Assad rebels – in a crowded neighbourhood of Aleppo.

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