35 Fighters, 10 Civilians Die in Northwest Syria Hostilities
At least 10 civilians and 35 fighters, with most of the latter reportedly pro-regime combatants, were killed on Saturday amid violence that erupted in northwestern Syria, the United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine rebel fighters, and ensuing clashes left 26 pro-regime personnel dead. The bloodshed began as the Russian-backed, pro-Assad troops tried to retake two villages seized by rebel groups and their allies in Hama Province. In neighboring Idlib Province, the last opposition bastion, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, three of whom were children. Idlib is supposed to be protected from an offensive by pro-Assad forces under a deal Russia and Turkey signed last September. However, it was never fully implemented and violence has continued to plague the province. The Russian-backed, pro-regime forces have killed nearly 400 civilians in the region since April, according to the Observatory. Moscow claimed last week that a new cease-fire had been reached, but this was later denied by Ankara. The Syrian civil war that began eight years ago has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions. Russia intervened in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from Western-backed rebel groups.