Deadly new air strikes as Syria army battles jihadists
Beirut (AFP) –
Syrian government aircraft bombed several towns in northwestern Syria on Thursday killing five civilians as troops and militia battled jihadists on the ground, a monitor said.
The new bombardment of the largely jihadist-controlled region of Idlib followed strikes on Tuesday night and Wednesday that killed 23 civilians, 12 of them at a busy market.
In neighbouring Hama province, Syrian troops battled for a third straight day to repel a jihadist counterattack around the town of Kafr Nabuda, leaving 15 combatants dead, 11 of them jihadists, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Syrian government forces retook the town on May 8 but the jihadists retook most of it on Wednesday, the Britain-based monitor said.
More than 100 combatants have been killed in the fighting around Kafr Nabuda since Tuesday.
The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate, controls much of Idlib as well as adjacent slivers of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
The jihadist-dominated region is nominally protected by a buffer zone deal, but the government and its ally Russia have escalated their bombardment in recent weeks, seizing several towns on its southern flank.
The United Nations has warned that an all-out offensive on the Idlib region would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe for its nearly thee million residents.
More than 200,000 people have already been displaced by the upsurge of violence since April 28, the UN has said.
A total of 20 health facilities have been hit by the escalation -- 19 of which remain out of service, it added.
? 2019 AFP