Air strikes kill 9 in rebel-held nw-Syria

Following a car bombing, airstrikes on rebel-held areas in Syria's northwest have killed nine.
Following a car bombing, airstrikes on rebel-held areas in Syria's northwest have killed nine.

Airstrikes on rebel-held areas in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib have killed at least nine people.

The Syrian Civil Defense said on Sunday five people, including three women, were killed in the village of Mallaja while four others were killed in airstrikes on the northern outskirts of the town of Saraqeb on the highway linking the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest.

The highway has been closed since 2012, when rebels captured several towns on it. Reopening the highway was the main aim of the government offensive that began April 30.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said six people were killed in Mallaja and six others were killed in the province, including two fighters.

In an area controlled by Turkey in the neighbouring province of Aleppo, opposition activists said Turkey-backed fighters opened fire on a group of protesters who were demanding a suspected car bomber be executed.

The Observatory said the protesters tried to storm a police station in the town of al-Bab, and that one protester was killed.

The protesters were reportedly calling for authorities to execute a man detained on suspicion of setting off a car bomb in al-Bab on Saturday which killed 19 people.

Syrian troops launched a four-month offensive earlier this year against the country's last opposition stronghold, which is dominated by al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The government offensive forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes

A fragile cease-fire halted the advance at the end of August, but in recent weeks it has been repeatedly violated.

Last week, Syrian President Bashar Assad said his forces will soon retake Idlib.

In an interview with a Russian TV station, Assad said that they are now giving civilians some time to leave the area.

Several explosions have hit Turkey-controlled parts of northern Syria over the past month, killing and wounding scores of people.

That's since Turkey began a military operation into northeastern Syria against Kurdish fighters, following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria.

Australian Associated Press