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Air Raids Kill 1st Civilian in Northwest Syria Since Truce amid War Crimes Report

Air Raids Kill 1st Civilian in Northwest Syria Since Truce amid War Crimes Report

Wednesday, 11 September, 2019 - 10:15
Syrian boys look at a destroyed sheep pen following a reported Russian air strike in the village of al-Daher in Syria's northwestern Idlib province on September 11, 2019. Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP

Air strikes on northwest Syria killed an elderly man overnight Wednesday, the first such casualty since Moscow declared a ceasefire in the opposition-run region on August 31, as UN investigators linked Syrian and Russian forces to war crimes.

The truce, which brought a halt to four months of devastating bombardment by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its ally Russia on Idlib province, had held despite persistent skirmishes on the ground.

But on Tuesday, Russia carried out its first air strikes in the area since the ceasefire began, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Bombardment continued before dawn on Wednesday in the village of al-Daher where a 75-year-old man was killed, the Britain-based monitor said, adding that the air raids had since stopped.

The victim -- Ahmad Issa al-Moussa -- had been displaced to Idlib from Syria's second city of Aleppo several years ago, an Agence France Presse correspondent said.

"We were asleep... when we heard the sound of a missile falling 50 meters away," said Abu Anas, the victim's son.

The 31-year-old man said his father was slow to evacuate their home because of difficulty walking.

He died when a second air strike hit two meters away from him, the son added.

The truce was the second such agreement between the Syrian regime and opposition fighters since August 1. The previous one collapsed after just a few days.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) alliance controls most of Idlib as well as parts of neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces.

The region of around three million people is one of the last holdouts of opposition to Assad’s forces.

Meanwhile, United Nations investigators said Wednesday that US-led coalition forces have carried out air strikes in Syria causing a high number of civilian casualties, indicating that required precautions were ignored and war crimes may have been committed.

Syrian regime and Russian warplanes are also conducting a deadly campaign that appears to have systematically targeted medical facilities, schools, markets and farmland, which may also amount to war crimes, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria report said.

The investigators also accused HTS of firing rockets indiscriminately and killing civilians.

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