Airstrikes Reported in Northern Syria, 18 Dead: Activist Group

Airstrikes in northern Syria’s Idlib Province have killed at least 18 people on Wednesday, according to an activist group.

“The shelling on the area caused the civil defense center in Idlib in Bzabor village of Jabal al-Zawiyah, as it was targeted by regime’s warplanes,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The group claimed that Russian warplanes carried out 51 airstrikes, and Syrian warplanes conducted at least 73 airstrikes numerous places in Idlib. And “for their part, the [Syrian] regime ground forces fired 530 rocket and artillery shells on Idlib countryside,” the organization wrote.

State-run media did not confirm the airstrikes but wrote that “tens of civilians” have exited “terrorist-controlled areas in countryside” Idlib and Aleppo.

The Syrian Civil Defense, or White Helmets, wrote that some “21 innocent people have lost their lives today, and 82 others have been injured, as a result of the regime” and Russian strikes in Idlib, Ariha market, and other areas.

“The number of dead will climb as many are critically injured,” it wrote on social media.

The group added that ten airstrikes, as well as 26 Syrian regime shelling incidents, were recorded in Maarat al-Numan as well as the towns of Dadikh, Khan al-Subl, Maasaran, and Hartamiya in Idlib. “The Russian air strikes have shattered two days of relative calm that gave people a small relief from daily raids,” Mohamad Rashid, an activist, told Reuters on Tuesday.

The White Helmets also wrote that one of its members was among the dead.

The Russian Defense Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In recent months, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has directed his forces to attack the northwestern province, which is the last major opposition bastion in the country, with the help of Russian air support.

United Nations officials said this month the Syrian humanitarian crisis had worsened with at least 300,000 civilians on the run in Idlib, Reuters reported.

The new offensive comes as Syrian air defense systems were triggered on Tuesday following an aerial strike on a military base in Homs, Syrian state media said. According to the state-run SANA agency, “Army air defenses confronted aggression on T4 airport in Homs eastern countryside.”

State media added there were “reports that say the aggression was perpetrated by drones and missiles” and “some of them were downed.” State-run news outlet blamed Israel for the incident.

“The army air defenses immediately intercepted the hostile missiles and shot down a number of them, meanwhile, 4 missiles reached the targeted area and the damages were limited to materials,” a military source said via the state news outlet.