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Multiple airstrikes on Syria's rebel-held Idlib kill 23 civilians

At least 10 airstrikes were carried out overnight [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 31 May, 2016

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At least 23 civilians including five children have been killed in overnight airstrikes on the rebel stronghold of Idlib, northwest Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday.

At least 23 civilians have been killed in a wave of airstrikes on the rebel-held stronghold of Idlib in northwest Syria on Monday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The London-based monitor group said it counted at least 10 airstrikes on the city of Idlib late on Monday night, which it said killed at least 23 civilians, including five children. The group said it believed Russian jets were responsible.

But the Russian defence ministry denied its aircraft had carried out any strikes on the city.

"Russian aviation did not carry out any military operations, still less air strikes, in Idlib province," military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network, said 10 people were killed when the city's National Hospital was hit, but had no details about casualties elsewhere in the city.

The Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, which carries out rescue operations, gave a much higher casualty figure, saying dozens were killed and wounded in the airstrikes in which several hospitals were damaged.

The group said it had deployed its entire Idlib corps to take part in rescue operations.

The Observatory said the casualty number is likely to increase, however hospitals were not targeted, but suffered damage when bombs struck nearby.

Idlib is under the control of the newly resurrected Army of Conquest coalition, which is dominated by ultraconservative insurgent groups and rebel factions.

Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, al-Nusra Front, leads the coalition.

Al-Nusra Front is considered a terrorist group by the US and UN and has been excluded from previous cease-fire agreements between government forces and rebels.

The Army of Conquest announced it had suspended its non-emergency civilian administration in Idlib after the airstrikes, according to the Local Coordination Committees.

The group responded to the air strikes by shelling the nearby besieged towns of Foua and Kefraya, according to the Observatory. The two towns are seen as loyal to the government.

Meanwhile, opposition activists reported intense government airstrikes in the northern province of Aleppo on Monday.

The province has witnesses some of the worst violence over the past months and has also seen clashes lately between rebels and Islamic State group militants, who captured several villages last week before losing two of them again on Sunday.

More than 160,000 civilians have been trapped by the fighting between IS and Syrian rebels and the aid group Doctors Without Borders last week evacuated one of the few remaining hospitals from the Aleppo area.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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