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The New Arab

A week of Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes have destroyed 47 civilian facilities in Idlib

Idlib has been heavily destroyed following intense Russian bombing [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 October, 2017

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Intense Russian and Syrian regime bombing over the past week have seen strikes on 47 civilian facilities including schools and hospitals.
A week-long Russian and Syrian regime bombardment of  opposition Idlib province has seen 47 civilian facilities destroyed or severly damaged, including schools, hospitals and rescue centres, the Syrian Network for Human Rights reported this week.

In just eight days, 714 airstrikes have been launched on Idlib province - including 13 barrel bomb attacks - most of the sortees carried out by Russian jets.

Among the facilities destroyed are hospitals, civil defence centres and schools, some targeted with double tap strikes that suggest they were deliberately targeted.

Eight medical facilities, five schools, and 12 civil defence centres were hit in Russian bombing, while the Syrian regime was responsible for strikes on two medical facilities, one school, and four civil defence facilities.

Cluster bombs were used in the bombing, the Syrian human rights group said.

At least 137 people were killed in the attacks, including 23 children, 24 women and 52 fighters.

Russia is aware of the location of rebel bases, the group said, making it likely that the facilities were deliberately hit to destroy essential infrastructure for Idlib's civilian population, the group said.

Hundreds of schools, hospitals, markets, refugee camps and residential areas have been targeted by Russian and Syrian regime bombers throughout the war.

Idlib is home to around 2.9 million people, mostly refugees who have fled other areas of Syria that have been heavily bombed or taken over by regime forces.

The bombing goes against the Astana Agreement, which established de-escalation zones where bombing and other acts of violence would cease. Idlib province was one of the areas covered by the truce.

"Astana Agreements are now devoid of any meaning. When the forces of the sponsoring Russian side - along with its Syrian ally - bomb bases for armed factions who were part of the Astana Agreement and kill their fighters," the human rights group said.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights believe the bombing of civilian areas could be an attempt to strengthen al-Qaeda linked rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

The group recently took control of the province forcing more moderate opposition groups to flee to Turkey. This could be used to justify more intense strikes on Idlib province in the future, as happened last year when Aleppo was bombarded for weeks before regime forces captured the city.

"This is undoubtedly enhancing al-Nusra Front's (known now as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) position at the expense of these [moderate rebel] factions. We demand that the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable, those who were the reason the de-escalation failed, and have killed civilians."



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