Syrian opposition leaders say they are leaving Geneva talks after government air strikes kill at least 44 people in Idlib
Dozens of people were killed and many more injured on Tuesday in Syrian government air strikes targeting two towns in rebel-held areas of the northern Idlib province, according to monitoring groups and local officials.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the death toll from the two attacks, which struck a marketplace in Maarat al-Numan and the nearby town of Kafranbel, was 44.
It said the death toll was also expected to rise because some of those injured were in a critical condition. It said air strikes had been reported in Jisr al-Shugar also in Idlib province.
Omar Alwan, a civil defence official based in Maarat al-Numan, told Turkey's Anadolu news agency that the combined death toll was 33 people and that all had been civilians.
The attacks, some of the deadliest since a ceasefire took effect in February, were condemned by the leading Syrian opposition group who said late on Tuesday that as a result of the strikes, they were leaving Geneva where UN-led peace talks have been underway for the past week.
"It is a dangerous escalation of an already fragile situation, showing contempt for the whole international community at a time when is supposed to be a cessation of hostilities," the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) spokesman Salem al-Meslet said in a statement.
On Monday, the opposition announced it was halting its partipation in the talks to protest escalation violence and restrictions on humanitarian access in the country.
Muslet said Tuesday's raid was "Assad's response" to the HNC's decision to suspend its participation.