On Monday, regime airstrikes killed a further 16 civilians in northwest Syria, as the total number of people killed in deadly attacks by regime forces and Russia reached 750, with a further 440,000 people displaced since late April.
Six civilians, including a rescuing White Helmets worker, were killed in the town of Kafr Zeita in the northern countryside of Hama, local activists said.
Four more civilians were killed in the town of al-Latamneh and two in the nearby town of Latmeen. Four civilians were also killed in the town of Maarret al-Nu’man in the southern countryside of Idleb.
The region is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but the area has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally over the past three months.
Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad’s forces have regained control of two villages in Hama province, after rebel fighters withdrew following intensive air and artillery bombardments, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday.
Rebel fighters captured the villages of al-Jabin and Tel Melah in the northern countryside of Hama in early June during a counter attack against government forces, who have been waging a Russian-backed offensive in the area since late April.
A rebel commander in the area confirmed opposition fighters had withdrawn from al-Jabin after a heavy bombardment.
The pro-regime Al-Watan newspaper said the Syrian army had advanced as Syrian and Russian warplanes targeted militant positions and after several days of preparatory fire.
Ongoing shelling and airstrikes included the use of indiscriminate weapons, such as barrel bombs. The use of these weapons, which are dropped from helicopters, by the Syrian army has been widely documented during the eight-year conflict.
The targeted area is part of the last major foothold of the rebellion against Assad, who has vowed to take back “every inch” of Syria. However, his side has failed to make significant gains during the most recent campaign.
More than 440,000 people have fled the violence in the area over the past three months, according to the United Nations.
Syria’s war has killed more than 560,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.