Six people from the same family, including two children, were killed in an artillery strike by the Bashar Assad regime in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on Saturday.
Residents said the family was outside their house enjoying sunny weather and drinking tea when the shell struck. Low-flying reconnaissance aircraft circled the area, Maarat al-Naasan village in Idlib, after the strike.
The Syrian Civil Defense group, also known as the White Helmets, said the two children were aged 3 and 7. It said a total of 65 children have been killed in a renewed bombing campaign by the Russian-backed Syrian regime targeting Idlib in the past six months.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Syria war monitor, also reported the deaths. It said regime forces also shelled areas around the villages of Kafr A’ama and Taqad, west of the city of Aleppo.
"The shell fell on a civilian home," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Syrian regime and its ally Russia have regularly targeted hospitals and civilian areas since the start of the war in 2011.
The Idlib region bordering Turkey is home to about 3 million people and it is one of the last pockets to oppose Damascus.
For years, the Assad regime has ignored the needs and safety of the Syrian people, only eyeing further territory gains and crushing the opposition. With this aim, the regime has for years bombed civilian facilities such as schools, hospitals and residential areas, causing the displacement of almost half of the country's population.
The Idlib de-escalation zone was forged under an agreement between Turkey and Russia. The area has been the subject of multiple cease-fire agreements, which have been frequently violated by the Assad regime and its allies.
A fragile truce was brokered between Moscow and Ankara in March 2020 in response to months of fighting by the Russia-backed regime. Almost a million people have fled the Assad regime’s offensive yet the regime still frequently carries out attacks on civilians, hindering most from returning to their homes and forcing them to stay in makeshift camps.