Artillery fire from government-controlled territory and airstrikes killed at least eight civilians in Syria’s last rebel enclave on Saturday, most of them children, rescue workers and a war observer said.
The bombing of Ibleen, a village in the southern province of Idlib, hit the house of Subhi al-Assi, killing him, his wife and three of his children in their sleep, according to the rescue service known as name of White Helmets and the health directorate of Idlib. Al-Assi was an administrator at a local health center.
Shelling also hit the home of a White Helmets volunteer, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, killing his two children. The volunteer, Omar al-Omar, and his wife were injured, according to the White Helmets.
In a nearby village, the White Helmets reported that another child was killed and four others from the same family were injured.
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also reported the bombings and casualties. The SOHR said the bombardment was followed by airstrikes by suspected Russian warplanes that struck areas west of the city of Idlib.
The White Helmets said one of their centers was targeted and destroyed in the airstrike, and five volunteers sustained minor injuries. A water station in the area was also hit and shut down, the White Helmets said.
In recent weeks, violence between government forces and insurgents has escalated around the last rebel stronghold in northwest Idlib province, despite a truce negotiated last year.
The truce was negotiated between Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition, and Russia, the main supporter of the Syrian government. At the time, he put an end to an overwhelming Russian-backed government air and ground campaign to reclaim the region home to nearly 4 million people, most of them displaced.
Residents of the enclave depend on humanitarian aid provided across the border with Turkey. The region is dominated by insurgent groups, including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group once linked to al-Qaida.