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Rebel fire kills five civilians in Syria regime-held town, state media says

AFP-JIJI

Rebel rocket fire killed four children and a woman Sunday in a regime-held town outside the embattled jihadi bastion of Idlib in northwest Syria, state news agency SANA said.

The bombardment by “terrorist groups” on the Christian-majority town of Suqaylabiyah in Hama province also wounded six other children, SANA said, using its term for rebels and jihadis.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rockets had been fired from the nearby Idlib region, which is controlled by former al-Qaida affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

The Britain-based war monitor said it was unclear whether HTS or other insurgent groups were behind the attack.

That region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime assault by a September buffer zone deal signed by government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

But Damascus and its allies have upped their deadly bombardment of the edges of the jihadi bastion in recent weeks, killing dozens and causing tens of thousands to flee, according to the Observatory.

They have also taken several towns this week from the jihadis near Suqaylabiyah.

U.N.-linked aid groups have suspended activities in parts of the Idlib region, as the increased violence since late April has jeopardized the safety of humanitarian workers.

The uptick in air strikes and shelling also displaced 180,000 people between 29 April and 9 May, according to the U.N.

The civil war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

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