BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government airstrikes over the country’s northwestern Idlib province on Thursday killed seven civilians and wounded at least 12, activists and first responders said.
The Syrian opposition, which now holds only a tiny sliver of the country, blamed Russian -backed warplanes for the attack. Moscow has been a major ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces and helped turn the tide in the country’s civil war in his favor.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists on the ground, gave the casualty figures, saying a total of 14 airstrikes were launched, killing seven people. It gave a higher toll for the wounded, saying 15 people were hurt.
Syrian Civil Defense volunteers also said in a statement that the area in the opposition enclave was also hit with surface-to-surface missiles and cluster munitions. The sources of the airstrikes could not be independently verified, nor the targets of the attacks.
Rescuers rushed to remove the bodies under the rubble of a workshop in the village of Hafsarja.
”We wanted to try to save the wounded, but we couldn’t because the jets were in the sky and kept launching attacks,” said Mohammad al-Mohammad, a resident of the area.
The northwestern Idlib province is Syria’s last rebel enclave. The province is mainly under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaida-linked group, while northern Aleppo province is under the control of Turkish-backed rebel groups.
More than 90% of the population in that area live in extreme poverty, relying on humanitarian aid to survive.