08/11/2018, 15.58
SYRIA
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Scores of civilian casualties as Idlib comes under attack

Assad has now set his eyes on retaking Idlib province, the largest area still in the hands of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, former al-Qaeda ally. Some 2.5 million people live in the province. The United Nations calls for talks to avert "a civilian bloodbath".

Idlib (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Last night, a heavy aerial bombardment hit Idlib, in northern Syria, killing almost 30 civilians.

Idlib is the largest chunk of territory still in rebel hands, and President Bashar al-Assad has warned it would be his next target.

The province's southwest was shelled heavily on Thursday and the bombing the next day "moved further east," leaving 11 civilians dead, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. 

"It's the most intense bombing since Idlib was declared a de-escalation zone last year," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said. 

The shelling left eight civilians dead in the main town of Khan Sheikhun, and another three including a child died in nearby Al-Tah.

In recent months, the rebels have lost huge areas to the forces of the Syrian regime.

An estimated 2.5 million people live in Idlib province, many of them rebels and civilians bussed out of other areas that retaken by government forces.

Around 60 per cent of the province is held by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate. 

Rival factions control most of the rest, but Syrian troops have seized a small part in the southeast.

"The war cannot be allowed to go to Idlib," said Jan Egeland, head of the UN's humanitarian taskforce for Syria.

The United Nations appealed Thursday for talks to avert "a civilian bloodbath" in the province, which borders Turkey.

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