World

Assad regime fire kills seven in northwest Syria market, monitor group says

AFP-JIJI

Syrian regime rocket fire killed seven civilians in a market for olives in an opposition bastion in the country’s northwest Thursday, a war monitor said.

The bombardment fell on a village north of the town of Jisr al-Shughur in the jihadi-controlled Idlib region, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Idlib region, which has about 3 million residents — half of them displaced from other parts of the country — is controlled by Syria’s former al-Qaida affiliate.

President Bashar Assad’s forces launched a blistering campaign against Idlib in April, killing around 1,000 civilians and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.

But a cease-fire announced by key government ally Russia has largely held since late August, though the Observatory says skirmishes persist.

Assad on Tuesday said Idlib was the main front remaining to end Syria’s eight-year civil war, as he made his first trip since 2011 to visit troops in the region.

He spoke as his forces were deploying in Kurdish-majority areas to the east of Idlib to help stave off a deadly Turkish offensive.

Syria’s war has killed 370,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since beginning in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.

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