Airstrike in northwestern Syria kills over 50 rebel fighters

It said it also suspected the airstrike was carried out by Russia, which is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s civil war.

Updated - October 26, 2020 09:48 pm IST

Published - October 26, 2020 04:36 pm IST - BEIRUT

Representational image

Representational image

Russian airstrikes killed 78 Turkey-backed rebels in northwestern Syria on Monday, a monitor said, in the bloodiest surge in violence since a truce almost eight months ago.

More than 90 others were wounded when Russian warplanes targeted a training camp of the Faylaq al-Sham faction in the Jabal Duwayli area in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In March, a truce brokered between Moscow and Ankara stemmed a deadly months-long Russia-backed regime military offensive on the country’s last major rebel stronghold in Idlib

That onslaught from December had displaced almost a million people from their homes in one of the worst humanitarian crises of the nine-year civil war.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman described Monday’s strikes as the “deadliest since the ceasefire came into force”.

The National Liberation Front, an umbrella group of Ankara-backed rebels based in Idlib that includes Faylaq al-Sham, told AFP that Monday’s Russian strikes hit one of its positions and caused casualties. It did not give an exact death toll.

NLF spokesman Sayf Raad denounced the “Russian aircraft and regime forces continuously violating the Turkish-Russian deal in targeting military positions, villages and towns”.

Of the almost one million people displaced in the last Idlib offensive, more than 2,00,000 have returned home to their towns and villages, most since the ceasefire went into force.

Endangers truce

The March truce has largely held, despite some intermittent bombardment in the area from both sides. Russian air strikes have from time to time targeted military positions, including those of Turkey-backed groups, Abdel Rahman said.

After a string of military victories backed by Russia, the Syrian government has regained control of around 70 percent of the country, the Observatory says.

Syria’s war, which broke out after the brutal suppression of anti-government protests in 2011, has killed more than 3,80,000 people.

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