Russian air strikes killed five civilians in Idlib, a de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria, while regime bombardment prompted over 2,000 more families to flee Aleppo in the past 24 hours, local sources said Saturday.
According to the Syrian opposition aircraft observatory, Russian warplanes targeted overnight Darat Izzah district and three farms west of Aleppo.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three children were among those killed after midnight Friday in the village of Bala in Idlib.
"A man, his wife, and their two little girls were among those killed," said the head of the Britain-based monitoring group, Rami Abdel Rahman.
The strike created a massive crater of rubble near a two-story home flanked by an empty outdoor swimming pool, the correspondent said.
The Syrian Assistance Coordination Units noted that at least 2,886 families left towns and villages in the countryside of Aleppo toward Afrin and to safe zones near the Turkish border, Ihlas News Agency (IHA) said. The NGO urged local authorities and international aid organizations to provide assistance for the civilians, while they warned that the continuous attacks targeting civilians in large urban areas may result in a new refugee crisis.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrians tried to flee towns and villages in the countryside of Aleppo toward Afrin and other safer areas to seek refuge from Russian bombings.
Some of the civilians reportedly waited for hours at the checkpoints and later had to return to their towns after not being allowed to leave the region.
Turkey announced on Jan. 10 that a new cease-fire in Idlib rocked by violence – though "acts of aggression" are already officially banned – is set to start just after midnight on Sunday, Jan. 12.
Separately a day earlier, Russia's Defense Ministry announced a cease-fire in the region taking effect at 2.00 p.m. local time (1200GMT).
However, the regime and Iran-backed terrorist groups continued their ground attacks despite the fresh cease-fire.
Turkey pushed hard for a cease-fire in Idlib after the region endured months of battering by forces loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allies, sending about a million civilian refugees flocking towards the Turkish border.
Also, Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
However, more than 1,300 civilians there have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces since then, as the cease-fire continued to be violated.
More than one million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the last year.
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