At least 10 people killed in Syrian government shelling of a rebel-held village, the opposition says
Syrian government forces shelled a northwestern village Saturday killing at least 10 people, including seven children, as they picked olives, a paramedic group and relatives of the victims said.
The shelling of the village of Qawqafeen, in Idlib province, is the latest violation of a truce reached in March 2020 between Russia and Turkey, who back rival sides in Syria’s 12-year conflict that has killed half a million people.
Syrian government officials have not commented on the strike.
Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded over the past years in violations of the truce that ended a monthslong Russian-backed government offensive on northwestern Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.
The shelling of the farm was reported by the Britain-based opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets.
The White Helmets said it treated one woman who was wounded and handed over the bodies of the dead to their families.
Omar Qadda, whose cousin, Abdallah Saeed, was killed in the strike along with Saeed’s children, sister and sister’s children, said he was nearby when the shells landed and rushed to the scene.
“There was no attack launched from our area,” he said. “They were civilians and children.”
Munir Mustafa, deputy director of the civil defense, said the emergency responders have seen an escalation in strikes launched by government forces since October, including on farmers.
“The targeting of farmers and preventing them from reaping their crops or cultivating their lands is a dangerous indicator for … food security in northwestern Syria,” he said.
The escalation in northwest Syria began with a drone strike in early October on the Homs Military Academy that killed 89 people, including 31 women and five children. No group claimed responsibility for the attack but the Syrian military accused insurgents of carrying it out and launched a brutal campaign of airstrikes on opposition-held areas of northwest Syria in retaliation.
Idlib is home to more than 4 million people, many of them internally displaced by Syria’s conflict that broke out in March 2011. The war displaced half the country’s prewar population of 23 million and left large parts of Syria destroyed.
Source: ABC news