Government assault comes after a drone attack on a military college left scores of people dead on ThursdayAt least 15 people have been killed in Syria‘s northwest, including four children, during shelling by government forces and the Russian military that started on Thursday and carried on into Friday.
According to the White Helmets civil defence group, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launched “intense and systematic artillery and missile attacks” on at least 15 villages and towns near Idlib and Aleppo.
The attacks hit “marketplaces, residential areas, four schools, a mosque, a Syrian Civil Defence centre, as well as an electricity facility and a fuel station,” the group said.
Two people were killed on Friday while 13 died on Thursday. At least 81 have been wounded overall, including 27 children and 19 women.
Abdulkafi Alhamdo, a 38-year-old from Idlib, says the shelling struck at night, leaving his family and young daughter trembling from fear.
“Last night we were about to fall asleep when over 13 or 14 rockets hit at the same time causing a lot of panic,” he told Middle East Eye.
‘My daughter was shaking’
– Abdulkafi Alhamdo, Idlib resident
“My daughter was shaking, thinking it was an earthquake and her legs were trembling, but she said she knew it’s either Assad or Putin, and kept asking why they wanted to kill us,” he added.
Alhamdo said he and his family spent the night under the staircase, too afraid to move. He only left to fetch his family food and drinks and then hid back under the stairs.
“It was horrible for me as a father to see my children afraid like that, no one could sleep. The future looks bleak because it reminded me of the days we faced in Aleppo, and the nightmares of it are coming back.”
Several residents of the same village were wounded and some are now in a serious or critical state.
The following morning Russian air strikes hit the western countryside of Idlib killing one child and wounding two others, the group added.
The bombardment was also confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
More attacks have been reported.
In some areas, residents have been left without electricity as attacks targeted an electricity and fuel station.
Rawd Amin from Sarmin town east of Idlib said he was in the market buying groceries when four mortar shells fell and he had to go back to check on his family.
“The shelling continued so we had to flee Sarmin to Idlib and spent the night there. We heard an eight-year-old girl got killed while she was on her way back from school. It was so shocking, all of the shops closed,” the 30-year-old added.
The bombings have continued on Friday according to Amin, with shelling occurring every few hours, causing destruction to buildings.
Hikmat Mustafa Aswad, a 40-year-old from Idlib, told MEE he was at home when the shelling happened. He said his nine-month-old baby suffered a head injury during the attack.
“Unfortunately, some of us were injured and our house was destroyed. They destroyed all of our belongings and everything in our house,” he said.
‘The Syrian regime doesn’t need an excuse to bomb and kill civilians’
– Rawd Amin, civilian
“We have a traditional Syrian home with a courtyard in the centre, when the shelling hit, and the explosion occurred, it felt like we were not conscious and we didn’t know what was happening. Our neighbours came and took us to hospital,” he added.
Amin says that in Idlib, civilians have become accustomed to government attacks whenever there is an offensive.
“The Syrian regime doesn’t need an excuse to bomb and kill civilians. Whenever there is an attack on a military position in the regime areas, the Syrian regime causes a big reaction to convince people that they are taking revenge, but all they are doing is sacrificing pawns,” he explained.
“The Syrian regime doesn’t care for the people under its control nor for the people not under its control. So, it’s horrifying for us whenever there are attacks,” he added.
The assault took place shortly after at least 89 people were killed in a drone attack on a graduation ceremony for government forces in the Homs military college, some 140 km south of Idlib.
The source of the attack was not immediately clear and no group has claimed responsibility for it.
Turkey strikes Kurdish targets
Separately, Turkey intensified its air strikes on Syria’s Kurdish-held northeast following a bomb attack in Ankara last week that was claimed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Turkish raids hit civilian areas, two power stations, and the area close to a dam.
Kurdish forces say 11 people were killed.
Turkey’s military on Friday said it had “neutralised” 26 Kurdish fighters.
The air strikes could be seen and heard in al-Roj camp, where thousands of foreign women and their children remain detained, according to a source.
The camp was left without water and electricity, the source added.
A Turkish police officer was also killed on Thursday evening in a rocket attack on a Turkish base in Syria.
Seven other soldiers and officers were wounded in the attack that was launched by the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
Disclaimer: Syria: Assad forces kill civilians in Idlib shelling as Turkey bombs northeast - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view