Air raids by Syrian warplanes in the country’s restive northwest killed at least eight civilians, including two children, as troops and rebels battled for a town that has changed hands over the past two weeks.
Thursday’s air raids followed an intensification of fighting in the last rebel-held stronghold in the country after a coalition of armed groups launched a counter-offensive two days earlier aimed at regaining territory lost to government forces.
More than 200,000 people in the region have fled since Syrian and allied Russian forces renewed a military campaign to rid the northwest of various rebel groups.
Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad seized control of Kafr Nabuda in Hama province on May 8 but were repelled by rebel fighters on Wednesday.
More than 100 combatants have been killed in the fighting around the town since Tuesday.
Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly the al-Qaeda wing in Syria, alongside other rebels control much of Idlib province as well as slivers of the adjacent Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
In the Idlib town of Kafr Aweid, air raids on Thursday blew in the facades of buildings, littering their interiors with mounds of rubble, an AFP news agency photographer reported.
A young boy was seen running barefoot from the site of a blast covered in dust – his eyes filled with tears and spatters of blood visible on his feet.
Two young girls were killed in attacks on the town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said.
It said ground clashes had subsided but government warplanes carried out more than 60 raids on various parts of southern Idlib.
One of the attacks knocked out a health facility in Kfar Oweid village, the Observatory said.