Rocket kills 4 kids, woman in Idlib
Rebel rocket fire killed four children and a woman Sunday in a regime-held town outside the embattled militant bastion of Idlib in northwest Syria, state news agency SANA said.
The bombardment by “terrorist groups” on the Christian-majority town of Suqaylabiyah in Hama province also wounded six other children, SANA said, using its term for rebels and militants.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rockets had been fired from the nearby Idlib region, which is controlled by former Al Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al Sham.
The Britain-based war monitor said it was unclear whether HTS or other insurgent groups were behind the attack.
That region of some three million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime assault by a September buffer zone deal signed by government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
But Damascus and its allies have upped their deadly bombardment of the edges of the militant bastion in recent weeks, killing dozens and causing tens of thousands to flee, according to the Observatory.
They have also taken several towns this week from the militants near Suqaylabiyah.
UN-linked aid groups have suspended activities in parts of the Idlib region, as the increased violence since late April has jeopardised the safety of humanitarian workers.
The uptick in air strikes and shelling also displaced 180,000 people between 29 April and 9 May, according to the UN.
Late Saturday, government forces expanded their ground offensive in northwestern Syria, pushing into the last rebel stronghold and regaining control of a number of villages along its southern corner, activists and media said, despite calls for honouring a cease-fire put in place in September.
The pro-government Military Media Center said that troops battled insurgent led by an Al Qaeda-linked militant group out of Midan Ghazal village, which falls inside Idlib province.
The government ground offensive has so far focused on areas at the southern edge of the rebel stronghold, in the Ghab plains and Hama province.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed troops gained new ground, but said all were in Hama province.