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Syria war: Assad forces kill nine in Idlib, including three children

Government shelling of the town of Al Fuah and village of Ablin also leaves 12 civilians injured, two organisations say
Rescuers search the rubble for survivors (MEE/Ali Haj Suleiman)
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Idlib, Syria

Shelling by Syrian government forces on Thursday killed nine civilians, including three children, in the Idlib region, according to Syrian Civil Defence rescue workers, also known as White Helmets, and a UK-based activist group

The deaths, along with 12 injuries, came amid an uptick in violations of a ceasefire deal that was brokered by Turkey and Russia in March 2020 and had since largely held.

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad have since last month stepped up shelling of rebel groups dominating Idlib, located in the northwest of the country, who in turn have responded by targeting government positions in surrounding areas. 

On Thursday, government shelling on the outskirts of Al Fuah town killed six civilians, including a child, and injured eight people, according to the White Helmets.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the victims were quarry workers.

In a separate attack on Ablin village, around 35km south of Al Fuah, government shelling killed three other people, including two children and a woman, and injured four children, the White Helmets said.

Truce violations

Earlier this month, Syrian government shelling on southern Idlib killed nine people, including five members of the same family, in one of the deadliest violations of the truce.

The Idlib region, which borders Turkey to the north and is home to more than three million people, many of whom are displaced, is the last part of Syria controlled by armed groups.

The body of one of the civilians killed in the shelling is placed in a truck (MEE/Ali Haj Suleiman)
The body of one of the civilians killed in the shelling is placed in a truck (MEE/Ali Haj Suleiman)

Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran, has vowed to retake the area, and the enclave has gradually shrunk under pressure from successive deadly land and air offensives.

Despite sporadic skirmishes along the ceasefire lines, the truce has largely held, averting a major assault that aid groups warned could cause suffering on a scale yet unseen in Syria's decade-old war.

The war has killed more than 500,000 people since it started in 2011, with the brutal repression of peaceful demonstrations.