Six civilians were killed in airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces on the country’s last major opposition stronghold, a war monitor reported on Saturday.
This raised the number of civilians killed there in less than 24 hours to 19.
Since late April, forces of President Bashar al-Assad, supported by Russian airpower, have pressed on with a massive offensive against rebels in the provinces of Hama and Idlib.
The campaign has intensified in recent weeks, raising fears of civilians’ safety there, according to local activists and aid workers.
“On Saturday, government and allied Russian jets mounted a series of strikes on rebel areas in Idlib and neighbouring Hama.
“The strikes and government shelling resulted in no fewer than six civilian deaths in the enclave.
“On Friday, 13 civilians, including seven children, were killed in government airstrikes in rural Idlib,’’ the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
According to the Observatory, since late April, the onslaught on the rebel enclave has claimed no fewer than 570 civilian lives, including 145 children and displaced over 300,000 people.
In recent months, al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russians, have regained vast chunks of territory from Western-backed rebels and militants in different parts of the country.