Report: Syrian troops shell northern villages, kill 7

October 26, 2018 - 1:02 pm

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces shelled rebel-held villages in the country's northwest on Friday, killing seven people in violation of a truce reached by Russia and Turkey last month, opposition activists said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven people, including three women and three children, were killed in the shelling of Umm Jalal and Rafa villages in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the country. The villages are part of a demilitarization zone that was agreed upon between Russia and Turkey.

The Smart News, an opposition activist collective, also reported casualties in Rafa without giving a breakdown.

The violence comes a day before the leaders of Turkey, France, Germany and Russia are scheduled to hold a meeting on Syria in Turkey.

The Sept. 17 agreement to set up a demilitarized zone 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) deep and stretching along the front lines around Idlib, including parts of the provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, aimed to avert a government offensive on the area. It also called on jihadi fighters to evacuate the demilitarized zone, but activists say many of them did not pull out.

On Thursday night rebels hit with heavy machinegun fire the Jamiat al-Zahraa neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and former commercial center, state news agency SANA said. It said the fire caused material damage.

Rebels shelled three neighborhoods in Aleppo the night before wounding 10 people, SANA said.

Both sides have been accusing each other of violating the truce.

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