Activists say airstrikes in northern Syria kill more than 20

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MGN Online

BEIRUT (AP) – Airstrikes on a village in northwestern Syria killed more than 20 people and wounded dozens on Friday, opposition activists said.

The strikes hit the village of Darkoush in Idlib province, near the border with Turkey, on the last day of a three-day cease-fire announced by the Syrian army. Despite the declared truce, violence has continued unabated. The cease-fire is to expire at midnight.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll from Friday’s airstrikes at 23, including two children. The Local Coordination Committees also reported the deaths.

Idlib province is controlled by a coalition of rebel and militant groups known as the Fatah Army, or Army of Conquest. The coalition dominated by the al-Qaida branch in Syria, the Nusra Front. It wasn’t clear whether it was Syrian or Russian warplanes that carried out the airstrikes on Darkoush.

On Thursday, Syrian government forces and their allies pushed into an area north of the city of Aleppo, threatening a key supply line for the city’s opposition-held quarters and setting off intense clashes with rebels, activists said. The rebel supply line to Aleppo is known as the Castello road and government forces and their allies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, have been mounting repeated attacks on it.

The advance came despite the government’s own cease-fire, which the authorities announced the previous day to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

In New York, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said on Friday that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, is “extremely concerned at the unfolding situation in Aleppo, Syria, particularly the situation for the estimated 300,000 people trapped in the eastern part” of the contested city.

Haq noted the heavy clashes along Castello road, the only road in and out of this part of the city, and said the heavy fighting over the past few days has continued to put civilians at risk.

“The United Nations calls on all parties to the conflict to take all measures to protect civilians, as required under international humanitarian law, in order to safeguard the lives of all civilians living in Aleppo city,” Haq added.

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