Many killed in Russian air raid in Syria
AIR strikes believed to have been carried out by Russian warplanes yesterday killed scores of people in the centre of the rebel-held city of Idlib in northwest Syria.
Rescue workers said at least six strikes had hit a busy market place in the heart of the city, several government buildings and residential areas, adding that no fewer than 43 people had been killed.
“There are a lot of corpses under the rubble,” Yasser Hammo, a civil defense worker said, adding that volunteers and civil defense workers were still pulling bodies out.
Footage on social media and the pro-opposition Orient TV station showed makeshift ambulances rushing with injured civilians through an area where people were searching for survivors among the debris of collapsed buildings.
One local resident, Sameh al-Muazin, said he had seen mangled bodies in the main Jalaa street of the city, adding that people feared a further round of intensive bombing.
Russia began a major aerial campaign on Sept. 30 in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its ally, who earlier in the year had suffered a series of setbacks including the loss of Idlib province and areas near the coast which are of crucial strategic importance.
Moscow said its targets were Islamic State militants but rebels and residents had allegedly said they were causing hundreds of civilian casualties through indiscriminate bombing of areas well away from the frontlines.
A coalition of Islamist rebels took Idlib city, the capital of a northwestern province of the same name, earlier this year. It had previously been largely spared by the Russian warplanes.
Idlib was part of a United Nations-brokered ceasefire deal reached in September by warring parties. This allowed for the eventual withdrawal of rebel fighters holed up in a border village near Lebanon in return for the evacuation of civilians from two Shi’ite villages under rebel siege in Idlib province.
Under the deal there was a tacit understanding it fell under the ceasefire arrangements.
Idlib had attracted thousands of ordinary Syrians displaced by the fighting in areas in northern Syria and had also become the center for a local administration run by Islamist insurgents.