Russia air strikes kill 10 civilians in northwest Syria: monitor

A damaged vehicle lies next to a crater caused by reported airstrikes by Russia in Kafranbel, Idlib province of Syria on May 20, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2019
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Russia air strikes kill 10 civilians in northwest Syria: monitor

  • Clashes between regime forces and militants raged Monday on the edge of the region held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate
  • The Syrian regime and Russian bombardment has increased in Idlib region since late April

KAFRANBEL, Syria: Air strikes by Syrian regime ally Russia have killed 10 civilians including five children in a northwestern militant bastion, a monitor said Monday, hours after Moscow announced a cease-fire there.
Clashes between regime forces and militants raged Monday on the edge of the region held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, following the deadly air raids overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Idlib region controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham is supposed to be protected from a government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but regime and Russian bombardment has increased there since late April.
The Observatory said Russian air strikes overnight killed five children, four women, and one man in the town of Kafranbel in Idlib province.
The air strikes hit near a hospital in the town, knocking it out of service, the Britain-based monitor said.
An AFP correspondent saw five homes on the edges on the town that were destroyed or damaged after the strikes.
Survivors picked through the debris to save the belongings they could, the reporter said, while a young man covered in dust from head to toe leant against a wall, shell-shocked after his father was killed.
Umm Wasel narrowly missed the air strike on her home after relatives invited her over to break her daily fast of the Islamic month of Ramadan with them.
“I came back at night to find my home devastated,” said the 72-year-old, dressed in a long red robe and a black scarf covering her hair.
People “had thought I was under the rubble,” she said.
The Observatory said six other civilians also died in bombardment by regime forces in other parts of the Idlib region on Sunday.
The militant stronghold includes most of Idlib province as well as parts of neighboring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
Fighting raged in the north of Hama province between loyalists and militants from early Monday, the Observatory said, after relative respite in bombardment over the past three days.
Russian airplanes pounded the south of Idlib province, while government aircraft targeted the north of Hama province with machine guns, missiles, and crude barrel bombs, the monitoring group added.
The deadly Russian air strikes come after Russia on Sunday said Syrian armed forces had “unilaterally ceased fire in the Idlib de-escalation zone” from May 18 at midnight, but that fire of loyalists had continued.
Russia and rebel ally Turkey inked a buffer zone deal to protect the Idlib region of some three million people in September, but regime fire has increased there since HTS took control in January.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions inside Syria and abroad since starting in March 2011 with a crackdown on anti-government protests.


Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

Updated 8 min 41 sec ago
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Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

  • The rocket hit Burjeisa residential and operations headquarters west of Basra
  • Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile

BASRA: A rocket landed at the headquarters for several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding two Iraqi workers, police said.

The rocket hit the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of the city, they said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A security source said Exxon was preparing to evacuate some 20 foreign staff immediately.

Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italian Eni SpA, oil officials said.

Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile that landed 100 meters from the section of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon.

Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni.

Exxon evacuated staff last month after the United States cited unspecified threats from Iran for a decision to take hundreds of diplomatic staff out of Iraq.

Exxon had begun returning staff to Iraq, however, before Wednesday’s incident.

(developing)