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Syrian government continues bombing Idlib over Eid holiday

UK-based war monitor says at least four children killed in government bombings of militant-held province
Syrian government forces struck town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province on 5 June (AFP)

At least eight people, including four children, were killed in Syrian government air strikes on Idlib province, a militant-held area in northwest Syria that has been under heightened attack in recent weeks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor aligned with Syrian opposition groups, said government forces carried out dozens of strikes on Idlib province on Wednesday morning.

Five people were killed, including two children, in the town of Kafr Aweed, the Observatory said on its website, while another 10 people were wounded.

The victims' relatives gathered at the town's graveyard on Wednesday afternoon as an excavator dug a large pit in the ground, AFP reported.

The scattered remains of one of the children were placed in a cardboard box before being buried, an AFP photographer said.

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The corpse of another was covered in an embroidered blue sheath, the news agency said.

The casualties on Wednesday coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid, and come after weeks of increased government bombardments on Idlib-area towns and villages.

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A woman and her two children also were killed on Wednesday when a motorcycle was struck by government air strikes on the Idlib town of Maaret al-Numan, AFP reported, citing the Observatory.

Last year, Russia and Turkey brokered a ceasefire in Idlib, staving off a planned offensive by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who sought to retake control of the area from armed opposition groups.

The province is held by Syria's former al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

But Syrian army forces have seized some areas of Idlib after the government's assault on the province increased in recent weeks and the ceasefire fell apart.

The violence displaced nearly 270,000 people in May alone, according to the United Nations.

Mohammed Zahed al-Masry, a member of the Syrian NGO Alliance, told Reuters on Wednesday that 600 civilians have died in the recent violence.

"We have 22 medical facilities that have been directly targeted. We have five markets that have been directly targeted, six centres for the White Helmets [rescue service] also have been directly targeted," al-Masry told the news agency.

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MEE previously reported that medical facilities across Idlib province have been destroyed in the government's military offensive.

Thousands of Syrian families have also sought refuge in makeshift camps in olive fields in northern Idlib.

The camps now stretch for about 50km between Idlib and the town of Atme on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Donald Trump on Sunday told Syria and its ally, Russia, to stop "bombing the hell" out of Idlib.

"The world is watching this butchery. What is the purpose, what will it get you? STOP!" the US president tweeted.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rebuffed Trump's criticism a day later, saying that its action in the province was justified because militants are using Idlib as a base to launch attacks against civilian and military targets.

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