Russian airstrikes kill more than a dozen civilians in Syria

Russian Syria
Syria Civil Defense said at least 14 civilians were killed by Russian warplanes on Thursday in Idlib province, a territory in northwest Syria that has seen relentless fighting for weeks. (Maxim Shipenov/EPA-EFE file photo via UPI)

MA’RAT MASRIN, Syria (UPI) — Russian airstrikes in northwestern Syria killed at least 14 civilians and injured several others on Thursday, rescue workers said.

Syria Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, said the attacks hit a shelter for displaced persons near Ma’rat Masrin in Idlib province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 25 people were killed or injured and called the strikes a “massacre.” A hospital worker in Ma’rat Masrin said at least 20 people were hurt. The Daily Sabah reported 16 dead.

Thirteen people were also killed on Wednesday, including seven children, from airstrikes and shelling that targeted several cities in Idlib and the Aleppo area, the White Helmets said.

Fighting in Idlib intensified this week as Russian airstrikes backed the advance of Syrian regime forces that are attempting to recapture parts of Idlib, the last remaining stronghold of groups opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Nearly 1 million Syrians have been displaced since an offensive by Turkey began in December. Turkish forces are supporting Syrian rebels, which Damascus and ally Russia view as terrorists.

Thursday’s attacks preceded a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where they will discuss the fighting in Idlib and a possible cease-fire. Fifty-eight Turkish soldiers have been killed in the past month, including 33 in an airstrike last week.

Reporting by Don Jacobson

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