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7 civilians killed in air strikes in Syria’s Idlib: monitor

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Civilians and members of the civil defence (known as the white helmets) load wounded men into a vehicle to be taken to a make-shift hospital following an air strike on the rebel-held besieged town of Arbin, in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on January 2, 2018.ABDULMONAM EASSA / AFP

At least seven civilians, including five children, were killed Tuesday by air strikes in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, the last outside government control, a monitor said.

Government and allied forces backed by Russian warplanes have been battling jihadist fighters and rebels for over a week in an area straddling the border between Idlib and Hama provinces.

The air strikes targeted the town of Khan Subul in the centre of Idlib province, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“There were at least seven dead, five children and two women,” the Observatory said.

“We do not know if these were air strikes by the Syrian regime or the Russians,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The government push on the edge of Idlib province follows two months of sporadic fighting that the United Nations says has displaced more than 60,000 people.

“Displacement sites are reportedly overwhelmed. Some services are 400 per cent above their planned capacity to serve,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

An AFP correspondent said there were fresh clashes Tuesday.

A column of white smoke could be seen rising into the sky after a regime air strike in the town of Al-Tamana and rebels were firing artillery at government positions.

Idlib province currently dominated by a former Al-Qaeda affiliate — was one of four “de-escalation zones” agreed to help halt fighting around the country by regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey.

The war in Syria has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since it began in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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