Russian and Israeli planes hit Syria in separate strikes, killing at least 10 people

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BEIRUT – At least 10 people have been killed in Syria overnight and this morning, following Israeli strikes on the capital in the south and Russian strikes in the northwest of the country.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported Israeli strikes from the disputed Golan Heights shortly after midnight on Friday, killing three soldiers, wounding seven others and causing property damage.

Jordanian state television later reported that the number of Syrian soldiers had risen to five.

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Syria regularly reports airstrikes from Israel’s southern neighbor, its longtime nemesis. The strikes, rarely acknowledged by Israel, typically target military installations, arms depots and other locations under the control of Iran-aligned groups.

Last month, airstrikes the government attributed to Israel hit Syria’s main airport in the capital, Damascus, severely damaging runways and at least one hall of the airport terminal.

The extent of damage and casualties caused by these strikes cannot be verified.

On the other side of the country, in the northwest countryside of Idlib, Russian airstrikes killed seven civilians, according to the local first responder group, the White Helmets. A strike leveled a modest building in an olive grove that was once a chicken farm, the White Helmets media office told the Washington Post, killing four children from one family. Another strike killed two men who had approached the scene after the initial attack.

Photos released by the group show a gutted building with rubble and colorful blankets and pillows overflowing. One showed the corpse of a young girl, half of her body protruding from the rubble, her wrist adorned with gold bracelets. Another showed his bleeding uncle, sitting barefoot and cross-legged, watching members of the Civil Defense do their job.

The children’s father and mother are being treated at a hospital, said the White Helmets, who identified the family as displaced from a village northeast of the Aleppo countryside.

Another attack hit nearby civilian residences, killing a man on a motorbike, the group said.

Russia is a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose brutal crackdown on popular protests that erupted in 2011 has largely made him a global pariah. Russia’s military intervention in 2015 was a lifeline for Assad, who at the time had lost large swaths of Syria to various rebel and extremist groups.

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Assad has since reclaimed much of the territory he lost, and as his troops, backed by Iran-aligned groups and Russian air power, have reclaimed territory, his government has loaded green buses with d ‘former rebels, their families and supporters and sent them to the northwest of the country.

The enclave, which stretches across Idlib province and its surroundings, is home to around 4.5 million people, many of whom have been repeatedly displaced by war. The area is controlled by militant opposition groups, and deteriorating overall living conditions have left 4.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

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Airstrikes have become a tragic norm for Syrians living in the region: young children who grew up during the decade-long war are able to identify planes and the level of impact their strike will have. But Idlib had gone through a period of relative calm in recent months, following a February raid by US commandos on the home of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, the leader of the Islamic State militant group. .

The latest Russian strike had taken place 10 days earlier, hitting military targets that had exchanged artillery and missile fire with Syrian government troops.

According to the findings of a rights group focused on Syria this week, the Russian and Syrian governments have carried out dozens of “double tap” airstrikes on civilians and aid workers in Syria since 2013 – a pattern of unlawful attacks in which Russia and Syria bomb or strike a location where paramedics, such as the White Helmets, and civilians gather to help victims of an initial attack.

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