DAMASCUS: Fighters fired rockets into a regime-held town in northwestern Syria on Sunday, killing six people, including five children who were playing near a monastery and wounding several others, state media said.
State TV said the shelling just before noon caused widespread material damage to the town of Suqailabiyah. It said the dead also included a 35-year-old woman.
State news agency SANA said regime troops had retaliated by firing shells toward rebels’ positions on the southern edge of Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold in the country.
Al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, or HTS, is the main insurgent group in the area.
Priest Maher Haddad told The Associated Press by telephone from Suqailabiyah that a rocket struck near a group of children, instantly killing five and wounding others. He said the woman was killed in a nearby street by a separate rocket.
“The kids went out to play after some days of calm,” Haddad said, since the town had not targeted who have been pushed further north by the Syrian army.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, also reported that six people were killed, adding that eight others, including six children were wounded.
The Observatory said regime shelling of an opposition-held village to the north killed one person and wounded others.
The rebel enclave has been rocked by a wave of violence since April 30, killing and wounding dozens while forcing some 150,000 people to flee their homes in rebel-held areas.
Syrian troops have been on the offensive under the cover of airstrikes for days, capturing several strategic locations and villages. Sunday’s deaths are another blow to a cease-fire reached in September between Russia and Turkey.
Idlib is home to some 3 million people, many of them displaced from other parts of the country
The truce avoided a regime offensive on Idlib.
Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency on Sunday reported Turkish military deployments in southeastern Kilis province and southern Hatay province, both bordering Syria. The fresh commando and armored vehicle deployments were to reinforce border units, according to the agency.
The Observatory said that since the latest wave of violence began late last month 297 people have been killed.