AIRSTRIKES KILL AT LEAST 20 CIVIL­IANS, MANY CHIL­DREN

Vancouver Sun - - WORLD -

Airstrikes hit mar­ket­places in two rebel-held towns in north­west­ern Syria on Mon­day, killing at least 10 civil­ians and in­jur­ing dozens, a civil de­fence group in Idlib prov­ince said.

The at­tacks marked what could be the start of a new push by Syr­ian govern­ment forces to re­take one of the few re­main­ing bas­tions held by rebels, con­tribut­ing to one of the blood­i­est days for Syr­i­ans in the area in months.

Hours af­ter the Idlib at­tacks, an airstrike by Turk­ish forces in northern Syria hit the nearby Kur­dish-held town of Tal Ri­faat, also killing 10 civil­ians, mostly chil­dren, a spokesman for a Kur­dish-led mil­i­tary group said.

The Idlib at­tack comes amid re­newed fight­ing around the fi­nal rebel bas­tion in north­west­ern Syria that is crammed with dis­placed civil­ians and rad­i­cal Is­lamist fight­ers. In the past week, the

Syr­ian army has been slowly push­ing into the ter­ri­tory, re­cap­tur­ing vil­lages and in­flict­ing dozens of ca­su­al­ties.

The es­ca­la­tion in hos­til­i­ties threat­ens to trig­ger a new hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in an area al­ready tee­ter­ing on the brink of dis­as­ter. The ma­jor­ity of the re­gion is con­trolled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a coali­tion of ex­trem­ist Is­lamist fight­ers.

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