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Syria air raids kill first civilian since Idlib truce

Russia carried out air strikes in Idlib for the first time since declaring a truce[AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 11 September, 2019

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75-year-old Ahmad Issa al-Moussa was the first victim of Russian air strikes since a ceasefire was declared in the Idlib region at the end of August.

Russian air strikes on northwest Syria killed an elderly man overnight, the first such casualty since Moscow declared a ceasefire in the region on 31 August, a war monitor said.

The truce, which brought a halt to four months of devastating bombardment by the regime and its ally Russia on Idlib province, had held despite persistent skirmishes on the ground.

Russia carried out its first airstrikes in the area on Tuesday since the ceasefire began, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Bombardment continued before dawn on Wednesday in the village of Al-Daher where a 75-year-old man was killed, the Britain-based monitor said, adding that the air raids had since stopped.

The victim - Ahmad Issa al-Moussa - had been displaced to Idlib from Syria's second city of Aleppo several years ago, an AFP correspondent said.

"We were asleep... when we heard the sound of a missile falling 50 metres away," said Abu Anas, the victim's son.

The 31-year-old man said his father was slow to evacuate their home because of difficulty walking.

He died when a second air strike hit two metres away from him, the son added.

The truce was the second such agreement between the Syrian regime and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and rebels since 1 August. The previous one collapsed after just a few days with the resumption of the regime offensive on opposition territories.

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At least 450,000 people were displaced during the regime's latest assault on Idlib province, which began in April 2019 and has killed 1,371 people. Many have moved from southern Idlib to relatively safer areas in the north of the province.

The Idlib area was already host to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing regime attacks on other other parts of Syria before the Idlib assault began.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate controls most of Idlib as well as parts of neighbouring Aleppo and Latakia provinces.

The region of around 3 million people is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian first responders have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe likely to affect nearly 1 million displaced people in Idlib this winter amid already dire conditions.

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