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Syria air strikes kill 42, including 16 children

SNHR report says more than 158,000 civilians died in Syria's war, majority of which were killed by pro-Assad forces
Syrian volunteers try to evacuate an 8-year-old boy after a barrel bomb was dropped from an air force helicopter in Saraqeb in northwestern Syria on 20 July, 2013 (AFP)

Syrian government air strikes killed at least 42 people, including 16 children, in Idlib province in the northwest, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.

The air raids on Sunday afternoon and evening killed 19 people, including six children, outside the city of Saraqeb, and another 23 people, among them 10 children, in the town of Ehsim, the monitoring group said.

The province is largely under rebel control outside its capital, Idlib city.

The strikes outside Saraqeb hit an area where civilians were sheltering after fleeing repeated government air strikes on the city, the Observatory said.

Footage of the aftermath of the attack in Ehsim posted on YouTube by activists showed desperate civilians trying to dig out a man buried up to his neck in the rubble of a collapsed building.

Another video showed the lifeless body of a child, naked and covered in grey dust, lying on top of shattered breeze blocks.

Young men recovered the body and carried it away in a black shroud, shouting "God is greater."

Civilian death toll

Meanwhile, more than 158,000 civilians have been killed in Syria through attacks by forces of Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State (IS) militants, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

The UK-registered organization said in a statement on Monday that offensives launched by regime forces and attacks by IS were increasing.

It said that, in the operations carried out by Assad forces, 124,752 men, 17,139 children and 15,278 women had been killed.

A total of 831 men, 137 children and 81 women died in attacks carried out by IS militants in the country.

The SNHR said a total of 158,218 people had died since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011.

It added that 5,644 people had been exposed to torture under the Assad government, and 13 had been tortured by IS militants.

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