Syrian government shells in rebel area kill 7 relatives

BEIRUT (AP) – Syrian government artillery shells struck a village in the country’s last rebel enclave on Thursday, killing seven relatives, including four children, rescue workers and a war monitor said.

The bombing is part of an ongoing military escalation in the region of northwestern Syria, which has been the subject of a Russian-Turkish-sponsored ceasefire since last year. So far, it is unclear what caused the escalation, which before the attack had already killed at least 17 children this month, according to figures confirmed by the UN agency for the childhood, UNICEF.

Rescuers from opposition areas, known as the White Helmets, said the shells landed in the village of Ibleen, in southern Idlib province. A mother and her four children were among the dead who emerged from the rubble of a destroyed house. Seven other people were injured, the group said.

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the children’s grandfather and uncle were also among the victims. He said the father was injured in the attack.

According to Observatory records, 21 people, including 11 children and six women, have been killed in government strikes on the rebel enclave since Saturday.

Thursday’s strike came on the last day of Eid Al-Adha, one of Islam’s most important holidays.

The Syrian government, which accepted the truce negotiated between Russia and Turkey last year, has pledged to restore control of the territory it lost during the 10 years of conflict.

The truce, covering the area housing nearly 4 million of the most displaced people, was negotiated between Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition and has troops deployed in the region, and Russia, the main supporter of the Syrian government. At the time, he ended an overwhelming Russian-backed government air and ground campaign to recapture the region.

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