Middle East

8 killed in renewed strikes on Syria’s last rebel enclave

BEIRUT (AP) — At least eight civilians were killed, including three children, when Syrian government rockets hit two villages in the last rebel stronghold in northwestern Syria, rescue workers and a war monitor said Thursday.

The Syrian Civil Defense team that operates in opposition areas, known as White Helmets, said guided missiles struck in Ibleen, a village in southern Idlib, killing a woman, her daughter and a child and injuring four others. All were from the same family, the White Helmets said.

In eastern Idlib, at least five were killed, including a child, when rockets hit an area where a quarry is located near Foa, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Those killed were stone cutters, the Observatory said. The White Helmets put the number of those killed at six, including two children.

The discrepancy in the number of casualties in a cease-fire zone could not be immediately reconciled.

Violence has been rising in recent weeks in the last-rebel enclave between government and allied forces and insurgents on the edge of the territory, that is home to nearly four million people, despite a truce brokered in March 2020.

The truce was negotiated between Turkey, which supports Syria’s opposition, and Russia, the Syrian government’s main backer. At the time, it halted a crushing Russian-backed government air and ground campaign aimed at retaking the region.

UNICEF said 512 children were verified killed in Syria last year, the majority in the northwest where there are 1.7 million vulnerable children, many of whom have fled violence several times.

IMAGE: This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian White Helmet civil defense worker walking amid the rubble of houses hit by airstrikes, in Balyoun village, southern Idlib province, Syria, Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

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