Air strikes kill at least 18 in Syria’s Idlib: Observatory

The aftermath of airstrikes that hit Idlib and Aleppo after announcing ceasefire plan.

(Reuters) Air strikes killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said.

Syrian government or Russian jets pounded the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idib in the morning, the Britain-based war monitoring group said.

The strikes caused many people to choke, the Observatory added, citing medical sources who described it as a gas attack. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using any such weapons.

Russian planes have targeted a number of towns and villages in the area since entering the Syrian conflict in September 2015 to back ally President Bashar al-Assad.

But activists and residents said there had been a reduction of Russian strikes in Idlib province since a Turkish-Russian brokered cessation of hostilities late December.

Planes from the U.S.-led coalition have also launched a number of attacks in the rural province, a major stronghold of jihadists, many of them formerly affiliated to al Qaeda.

Idlib’s population has been swollen by thousands of Syrian fighters and their families who were evacuated from villages and towns around Damascus and Aleppo city retaken by the government in recent months.

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