Civilian death toll mounts in Syria | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 18, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, August 18, 2019

Offensive on rebel-held northwest

Civilian death toll mounts in Syria

Air strikes have killed more than two dozen civilians including 11 children in rebel-held northwestern Syria in the last two days in an escalation of a Russian-backed offensive, a war monitor and local activists said yesterday.

An air strike in the village of Deir killed seven people, mostly children, yesterday morning, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. On Friday, air strikes in the village of al-Haas killed 13 people. The dead included a pregnant woman and her unborn baby, local activists and the Observatory said.

They had been seeking shelter after fleeing another area.

Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Observatory said the government’s aim appeared to be force civilians to flee from areas that had been relatively unscathed in a military escalation that began in late April.

“They are bombing the towns and their outskirts to push people to flee,” he said.

Ahmad al-Dbis, safety and security manager for the US-based Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), which supports medical facilities in the northwest, said the bombardment had widened into populated areas where there were no military positions.

Dbis said the number of civilians killed by government or Russian forces stood at more than 730 since late April. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said more than 500 civilians have died in hostilities.

Russia and Syria have said their forces are not targeting civilians and are instead aimed at militants including the Nusra Front, a jihadist group known today as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

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