Fresh airstrikes bring Idlib civilian death toll to 140


The civilian death toll in Syria’s Idlib province following 10 days of intense airstrikes has surpassed 140, according to Anadolu Agency correspondents.

The correspondents based in the area said that at least 40 civilians were killed while 70 others were wounded in fresh bombardments in Armanaz village of Idlib late Friday.

Since Sept. 19, southern Idlib has remained the target of fierce airstrikes by both Russian and Syrian warplanes.

In the strikes, local hospitals and schools were also targeted.

Some of the targeted districts are located within Idlib’s de-escalation zone, which was recently set up based on an earlier agreement — signed in Astana, Kazakhstan — between Turkey, Iran and Russia.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the deadly air raids.

“We know Russia is targeting terrorist elements in Idlib,” he said. “But scores of civilians and moderate rebels have also been killed.”

He added: “Attacks on civilians constitute a breach of the cease-fire and a violation of the Astana agreement.”

Meanwhile, at least 14 civilians were also killed in attacks during the day in a Syrian city that falls within a network of “de-escalation zones” — places said to forbid such attacks — according to a pro-opposition Syrian civil defense official.

The attack — blamed on Syrian regime forces — took place in the Eastern Ghouta, which is located inside a de-escalation zone, a member of Syria’s White Helmet civil defense forces, told Anadolu Agency.

For the last five years, Eastern Ghouta has remained under siege by the Assad regime.

During peace talks held in Astana, Kazakhstan in early May, Eastern Ghouta was designated part of a network of de-escalation zones in which acts of aggression would be expressly forbidden.

A first round of peace talks was held in the Kazakh capital on Jan. 23-24, after a ceasefire was hammered out on Dec. 30.

The Astana talks are being brokered by Turkey, which backs the Syrian opposition, along with Russia and Iran, both of which support the Assad regime.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN officials.