DAMASCUS, Syria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Russian and Syrian forces have stepped up air raids and shelling on rebel-held areas of northwestern Syria, the heaviest assault in the area since it was declared a demilitarised zone last year, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, quoting AlJazeera.
Villages and towns in northern Hama province and southern Idlib that were targeted overnight on Wednesday are part of a “safe zone”, agreed in September between Russia and Turkey, as part of a deal that averted a major offensive on the area.
Schools and residential areas have been hit, Panos Moumtzis, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator, told Al Jazeera.
“There have been a number of casualties that have taken place in many locations: in health facilities, in schools, in residential areas,” he said, adding about 250,000 people had been displaced
Separately, he told Reuters news agency “the barrel bombing is the worst we have seen in 15 months”.
A war monitor and activists said on Thursday that four members of a family, including two children, were killed in an air attack in Kansarfa village, in the Idlib countryside.
Since Tuesday, attacks have forced thousands of civilians to flee to camps further north along the Turkish border and damaged four medical facilities, according to civil defence officials and a US medical aid agency working in the area.
“Medical facilities are being evacuated, leaving the most vulnerable with no access to medical care. We are on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Khaula Sawah, vice president of the US-based Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Syrian army helicopters have dropped barrel bombs, which are drums or cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel that cause indiscriminate destruction, killing at least 15 civilians and injuring dozens, rescuers in Idlib said.
Opposition-run civil defence agencies say hundreds of people, mostly civilians, have been killed by Russian and Syrian attacks since the September deal, which prevented a potentially devastating offensive on Idlib and nearby areas held by fighters and now home to more than three million people.
Syrian state media, quoting army sources, blamed rebels for the assaults and said it targeted “terrorist groups” in towns in northern Hama including Kfr Nabouda.
Follow us everywhere and at any time. BulgarianMilitary.com has responsive design and you can open the page from any computer, mobile devices or web browsers. For more up-to-date news from us, follow our Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages. Do not miss the chance to subscribe to our newsletter.