According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a war monitor that documents human rights abuses in Syria, Syrian regime shelling has killed eight children and a woman in Idlib province in the past two days.
On early Friday, artillery fire hit the village of Kansafra in Idlib, killing four children from the same family. While the children’s bodies were being buried at a cemetery, shelling re-started in a neighboring area. Search and rescue missions by local authorities are still ongoing.
On Thursday, artillery shelling by pro-regime forces reportedly killed four children and a woman in the nearby village of Balshun located in the area of Jabal al-Zawiya. Jabal al-Zawiya was targeted numerous times by regime forces and its Russian allies as part of a pressure campaign to open the strategic M4 highway in southern Idlib to commercial traffic. The M4 highway has strategic importance for the Syrian regime.
Earlier on Wednesday, Afrin was hit by a missile attack. Three civilians including a woman and a child have been killed.
16 civilians were reported to be killed in pro-government attacks in southern Idlib last month.
The Idlib region is home to around three million people with 2.8 million being internally displaced people (IDPs) from other parts of the country. Nearly 1.7 million IDPs live in tents. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 32,000 people were displaced from southern Idlib in July and 43,000 people were displaced in June.
A ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and Turkey has been in effect since March 2020 to prevent a new regime offensive. In line with the agreement, the creation of a 12 km-wide corridor on the M4 highway, which connects Latakia to Aleppo, and joint patrols by the Turkish and Russian forces was agreed to take place. Joint patrols ended last August.
The Syrian regime has been continuously violating the terms of the ceasefire since 2020. Regime forces have stepped up shelling on the southern edges of the region since June.