Shelling between rebels and troops kills 10 in northern Syria

Increasing violence in recent weeks between government forces and insurgents in their last stronghold

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Smoke billows following reported bombardment by government forces in the Syrian northwestern town of Barah, in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of the rebel-held Idlib province on June 21, 2021. Syrian government shelling on the rebel-controlled enclave of Idlib killed at least nine people, including four civilians, a war monitor reported. / AFP / Abdulaziz KETAZ

Syrian government forces and rebels exchanged shellfire in north-western Syria on Monday, killing at least 10 people, most of them in rebel-held areas, state media reported.

The area has had increasing violence in recent weeks, between government troops and insurgents on the edge of the last rebel stronghold in the north-western province of Idlib.

The region had been relatively calm since a truce brokered in March last year by Turkey and Russia ended a three-month, Russian-backed government air and ground campaign.

The fighting killed hundreds and sent 1 million people fleeing towards the Turkish border.

Opposition activists say government troops fired dozens of shells at the villages of Ihsim and Barah on the southern edge of Idlib, killing nine people, opposition monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported from Britain.

It said 13 people were wounded in Barah.

Taher Al Omar, an activist in Idlib, said the dead included a local commander of the Al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir Al Sham, and fighters from another militant group.

Mr A Omar said three civilians were also killed.

Insurgents in return shelled the government-held village of Joreen, killing a girl and wounding her father, said Syria’s state news agency, Sana.

Syria’s 10-year conflict has killed half a million people and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

They include five million who are refugees outside the country.

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