Russian strikes in Syria kill 18, wound dozens
Airstrikes believed to have been carried out by Russian warplanes killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens more on Sunday in a northern Syrian town held by non-Daesh rebels, Syrian opposition media reported.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes struck the town of Ariha, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens more. The Local Coordination Committees, an activist collective, said the airstrikes struck a busy market, inflicting heavy casualties.
Ariha, located in Idlib province, is controlled by the Army of Conquest, a rebel alliance of mainly Islamist groups, including Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Several areas of the town were hit and rescue operations are under way with several critically wounded, the Observatory said.
The Army of Conquest alliance seized Ariha in May after heavy fighting with regime forces.
Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria on September 30. It says it targets the Daesh group and other “terrorists,” but critics accuse it of targeting moderate and Islamist rebel fighters more than Daesh.
Russian air strikes have previously hit several Army of Conquest positions in Idlib province.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria, said the airstrike destroyed three buildings in the center of Ariha.
Ariha Today, a Facebook page that covers events in the town, said the airstrikes were carried out by Russian warplanes, killing 40 people and wounding more than 70. Conflicting tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of violent incidents in Syria.
If Russian warplanes carried out Sunday’s strikes it would be one of the deadliest incidents since Moscow began launching airstrikes in Syria two months ago. Opposition activists say scores of people have been killed by Russian strikes since the air campaign began on Sept. 30.
An amateur video posted online showed several men being treated on the floor of what appeared to be a clinic. Blood stains could be seen on the floor’s white tiles. On the street outside, four men could be seen lying near the building, with several young men weeping over them.
Shortly afterward, an ambulance arrived and a wounded man in a wheelchair was carried into the clinic.
The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting of the event.
Syria’s conflict has killed more than 250,000 people and wounded more than a million since the start of an uprising against President Bashar Assad in 2011.