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Russian, Syrian air strikes kill 15 civilians in northwest Syria

Russian Su-27 warplanes (Dmitry Terekhov /WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

At least 15 civilians were killed on December 2 when Syrian and Russian jets hit areas in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, a monitoring group says.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 13 people were killed when a public market was hit in Maaret al-Numaan in Idlib, which borders Turkey and is largely held by the opposition forces.

Some 18 others were wounded, most of whom were in serious condition, the observatory said.

The observatory added that two other civilians were killed, one in Saraqeb, south-east of Idlib, and another one in al-Saraman near Maaret al-Numaan.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the observatory, added that Russian planes also struck areas in the village of Kfar Sijna, south of Idlib city.

Russia has provided crucial support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government during the Arab nation’s civil war, which began with a violent government crackdown on protesters in March 2011.

According to the observatory, some 4,775 people have lost their lives, among them 1,224 civilians, since Syrian government forces kicked off a massive offensive in April against rebels in the provinces of Hama and Idlib.

Meanwhile, Russia said three of its military police officers were wounded in a roadside bomb blast as they carried out a routine patrol near the border with Turkey.

The trio received minor injuries when the bomb went off near the border town of Kobani on December 2, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Russia and Turkey have been carrying out joint patrols along Syria’s northeastern border under a deal reached by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The agreement came after Ankara launched an offensive across Turkey’s border with Syria in October.