Syrian war monitor: 28 civilians killed in ‘safe zone’

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At least 28 civilians were killed in air attacks in the opposition stronghold of Idlib province in northwestern Syria, a war-monitor group said on Saturday.

Four children were among the dead in the overnight air strikes on the town of Amanaz, a few kilometres from the Turkish border, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

An AFP news agency correspondent who toured Armanaz on Saturday said entire apartment blocks had been flattened by the bombardment.

It was not immediately clear whether the attack was carried out by Syrian government warplanes or those of its ally Russia.

According to the Syrian Observatory – which gathers its information from a network of sources inside Syria – dozens of people are still missing after the bombardment.

Secondary air strikes were carried out as a search-and-rescue operation was under way for victims, the monitor said.

Anadolu news agency reported at least 40 civilians were killed and 70 others wounded in Amanaz.

The Russian and Syrian militaries say they only target insurgents and deny killing civilians.

The surge in bombing raids has forced hospitals in the province to close, medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Friday.

Syrian and Russian jets have intensified attacks in Idlib. Increased air raids began after rebels launched an offensive against government-held areas in the northwest of the country on September 19.

Last month, Russia, Turkey, and Iran agreed to create a so-called “de-escalation zone” in the province, as part of their efforts to establish a broad ceasefire in war-torn Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on Thursday to step up efforts to establish a safe zone in Idlib.

Syria said the Idlib deal does not cover hardline opposition groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the government of President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to the United Nations.(Agencies)

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