Four civilians killed after north-western Syria ceasefire collapses

BEIRUT, Weedah Hamzah (dpa)- Four civilians were killed late Monday, hours after the Syrian army announced the resumption of attacks on north-western areas, effectively ending a four-day-old ceasefire that it said was violated by rebels.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least four civilians were killed and a number of others were wounded when a Syrian government helicopter attacked the city of Morek in the northern countryside of Hama.

The watchdog said Syrian government warplanes carried out more than 60 raids on Khan Sheikhoun, Tamanea, Kfar Sajna and the outskirts of Maaret al-Numaan in the countryside of Idlib. 
It added that Russian planes also hit areas in the southern countryside of Idlib.
The observatory said more than 250 artillery shells hit areas in the southern and western countryside of Idlib as well as the rural areas of Hama.
Earlier, the Syrian army said in a statement carried by the state-run SANA news agency that it "will resume its combat operations against terrorist organizations." 
The ceasefire had been in place since Thursday, when the Syrian government agreed to a conditional truce in Idlib and the central province of Hama, following a three-month military campaign supported by its ally Russia.
The region is the last major opposition stronghold in Syria, which has been in the grip of a devastating civil war since 2011.
In its statement on Monday, the army accused Turkey, which backs some rebel groups in the Syrian conflict, of allowing terrorist groups based in Idlib to carry out attacks.
"The Turkish authorities are continuing to allow their instruments based in Idlib to carry out attacks and reinforce their terrorists positions," the statement added.
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory said: "This was not a real ceasefire; the airstrikes stopped, but the shelling continued."
Mohammed Katoub of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), which operates hospitals inside Syria, said that "the ceasefire was short and fragile."
"Reports coming to us from the ground confirmed airstrikes on the southern countryside of Idlib this afternoon," Katoub said on Monday.
In April, government forces started a widescale offensive against rebels in Hama and Idlib that has since displaced some 400,000 people, according to UN estimates.
More than 800 civilians have been killed, among them 217 children, since the campaign started, according to the Observatory. 

Thursday, August 8th 2019
Weedah Hamzah (dpa)

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