Syria airstrikes kill 10 in rebel-held area despite truce
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government warplanes struck several rebel-held areas in the country’s northwest on Saturday, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens, opposition activist said.
A cease-fire supposedly went into effect Thursday, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. But Turkey’s Defense Ministry said the truce will go into effect on Sunday, without giving an explanation for the differing dates.
Russia is a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey is a strong supporter of some of the insurgents fighting against him. Moscow blamed the insurgents for violating the truce Saturday.
Idlib is dominated by al-Qaida-linked militants, and is also home to 3 million civilians. The United Nations has warned of the growing risk of a humanitarian catastrophe as people flee the fighting toward the Turkish border.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven people were killed by Saturday’s airstrikes in the province’s capital city, which is also named Idlib.
Airstrikes killed seven people in the village of Binnish and another four in the village of Nairab. The Observatory is based in Britain and documents the war in Syria through a network of activists on the ground.
The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said the strike in Idlib city killed six and wounded 30, adding that it hit a busy intersection. It said four people were killed in Binnish.
Different death tolls are common on the immediate aftermaths of airstrikes in Syria.
Government forces have been on the offensive in Idlib for more than three weeks, forcing more than 200,000 people to flee for safer areas further north.
The main aim of the offensive by government forces appears to be reopening the highway linking the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest. The highway has been closed in Idlib since 2012 when insurgents captured several towns along the route.