Multiple Russian strikes kill nine civilians in Syria’s Idlib
Five of the victims, including four women, died in the village of Al-Malaja in southern Idlib province while the other four were killed in raids on the town of Saraqeb in the east, according to the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets.
A number of people, including women and children were wounded, some seriously, the sources said, adding that a third raid near the village of Kafranbel had wounded two more people.
The Idlib region, home to around three million people including many displaced at least once by Syria's eight-year civil war, is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The militant group also controls parts of neighbouring Aleppo and Latakia provinces.
Regime forces, backed by local militias, launched an offensive on the al-Kabina area northeast of Latakia on Sunday, deploying helicopters, artillery and rocket fire.
HTS announced that it had responded to the attack by destroying a regime tank, injuring several soldiers.
The Assad regime is intent on recapturing the al-Kabina area, which contains several strategic hills that lead onto the Jisr al-Shughur in western Idlib - the regime's main target in its battle to retake the entire northwest.
The northwestern pocket is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, a ceasefire announced by Russia has largely held since late August, however the Russian-backed Assad regime continues to target civilians with strikes and shelling.
According to conflict monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 48 civilians - including 16 children - have been killed in Russian airstrikes on the region since the start of November.
The Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria, says it determines who carries out an airstrike according to flight patterns, as well as aircraft and the munitions involved.
Last month Assad said Idlib was standing in the way of an end to the civil war that has ravaged his country.
Syria's conflict has killed 370,000 people and displaced millions since beginning in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.
Agencies contributed to this report.