At least three civilians from the same family were murdered when Russian airplanes attacked the outskirts of the northwest Syrian city of Idlib on Saturday, according to a war monitor.
Russia has routinely targeted Syria’s last major rebel stronghold over the years, but assaults killing civilians had been rare this year until an escalation in fighting in late June.
“Russian airstrikes this morning” to the west of the city left “three dead from the same family… and six people wounded,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding rescue teams were still at work removing rubble.
Four strikes hit the area where opposition bases are also present, added the Observatory, a Britain-based group which relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria.
With Russian and Iranian support, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has clawed back much of the territory it had lost to the opposition early in the conflict.
The last pockets of armed opposition to the Assad government include swathes of opposition-held Idlib province, controlled by extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is headed by the country’s former al-Qaeda affiliate.
Syria’s 12-year-long war broke out after the repression of peaceful anti-government demonstrations escalated into a deadly conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global extremists.
The war has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions.
Since 2020, a ceasefire deal brokered by Damascus ally Moscow and opposition-backer Ankara has largely held in Syria’s northwest, despite periodic clashes.
However, in an uptick in violence, Russian airstrikes killed at least 13 people in Idlib province on June 25, in what the Observatory said at the time was the deadliest such attack on the country this year.
At least nine civilians, including two children, were among the dead – six of them killed at a fruit and vegetable market in Jisr al-Shughur.
On June 28, Damascus’s defense ministry said Syrian and Russian forces had launched airstrikes on opposition bases in the Idlib region.
The operation came “in response to daily and repeated attacks… on civilians” in residential areas in nearby Hama province, the ministry had said.
It did not specify the date of the bombardment, but the announcement came a day after Russian airstrikes killed eight HTS-affiliated fighters, according to the Observatory.
The opposition-held Idlib region is home to about three million people, around half of them displaced from other parts of the country.