BEIRUT/NEW YORK: Syrian regime warplanes dropped bombs on a residential building in the last opposition’s stronghold on Thursday, pancaking it and killing at least five people, including a mother and her two children, rescue workers and activists said.
Video shot by the Syrian Civil Defense showed volunteers working to pull bodies and survivors from under the collapsed building in Maaret Al-Numan, a town in southern Idlib that was hit in the airstrike.
The volunteers from the group also known as White Helmets pulled away at cement blocks to reach the lifeless body of a young boy.
His father, standing behind the camera, wept, repeating his son’s name, Abboudi, as rescuers mulled how to lift the heavy structure. A large bulldozer stood nearby.
Amid the frenzy, a younger boy emerged from a gap in the rubble with swollen red eyes, dusty hair and body, his shirt barely hanging on his body. Rescuers cheered. It was Abboudi’s younger brother.
The mother and another sibling, a girl, were also killed in the bombing. Activist-operated Baladi News agency also reported that five people were killed.
Syria’s regime escalated its offensive on the opposition stronghold in northwestern Syria, home to 3 million people. Bombs and shells rained on the crowded enclave, sending tens of thousands of civilians fleeing to safer areas in the north.
The UN has warned its humanitarian operations in the region are at risk. The US envoy for Syria says top US and Russian diplomats have discussed the step-by-step implementation of a 2012 roadmap to UN-supervised elections in the war-torn country that could allow a Syrian government “to move back into the international community.”
Ambassador James Jeffrey’s comments indicate a new US-Russian engagement on efforts to end the eight-year Syrian war.
But Jeffrey cautioned that “this is just a potential way forward” because there have been no steps such as a cease-fire in the last opposition-held stronghold in Idlib or the convening of a committee to draft a new constitution for Syria.
Jeffrey told reporters after a closed Security Council meeting Wednesday that such steps “would give us confidence that the Assad regime actually understands what it must do to help end this conflict.”