Assad regime and “Russian” forces have killed dozens of Syrians including at least seven children in deadly air raids over the weekend.
On Sunday regime attacks on villages surrounding government controlled areas killed at least 16 people including a young girl, White Helmets say.
The attacks come following deadly “Russian” airstrikes on Friday, killing two opposition fighters and 44 civilians in Zardana village overnight, including 6 children. The bombing inflicted the highest death toll in a single attack this year.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the attacks on Zardana village where most likely to have been carried out by Russian planes, which are distinguishable from the signature barrel bombs of the Assad regime.
In a statement, the director of the human rights group said:
“Warplanes, which are likely Russian, targeted the village of Zardana in northern rural Idlib overnight and caused the highest death toll in a single attack on the region including 11 women and six children.”
Russia’s defence ministry denied responsibility for the devastating attacks according to Russian state news agencies.
The airstrikes in and around Idlib occurred in part of the de-escalation zone agreed upon by Turkey, Russia and Iran last year. The de-escalation zones were created to allow for humanitarian aid to be delivered to civilians in safety. Attacks by Russian warplanes in the area would constitute a breach in the deal.
Russia’s motives in Syria have been subject to speculation and criticisms by supporters of the Syrian rebels. Russia claims it is aiding the Assad regime and Iran in the fight against ISIS extremists. However the regular attacks by the Russian military on rebel groups opposed to ISIS have led US military officials to say the country is in fact hindering the fight against the terrorist group.
The bombs dropped on Sunday targeted a hospital, family homes and several facilities used by civilians in the region.
The area was previously regarded as a safe haven for civilians fleeing the fighting, granting access to humanitarian aid due to its de-escalation zone status. Idlib is currently home to roughly two million people, thousands of whom have become internally displaced refugees due to the ongoing fighting .