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Eight dead in raids on rebel-held Syrian town

BEIRUT: Air strikes on a rebel-held town in northwestern Syria killed eight people on Saturday, a monitor said, the latest to hit the area where Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate has a strong presence.

Most of those killed in the Idlib province town of Maarat Masrin were civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Their deaths came after those of three civilians, one of them a child, in strikes on the nearby town of Orum al-Joz late on Friday, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

He said the strikes were carried out by Russian or Syrian government aircraft.

The US-led coalition too has carried out air strikes on targets in Idlib province in recent weeks.

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The Observatory says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.

A ceasefire brokered by regime ally Russia and rebel ally Turkey that went into effect on December 30 has brought relative calm to most of the country.

But it excludes former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham and its rival the Islamic State group.

Idlib province is largely controlled by a rebel alliance known as the Army of Conquest, which is dominated by Fateh al-Sham.

The ceasefire had been overshadowed by deadly fighting in the rebel-held Wadi Barada district, northwest of Damascus, which is the source of the capital’s mains water supply.

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But a local truce was agreed on Friday under which rebels pulled back to allow repair teams to enter to restore the supply, which had been cut since December 22.

The area was calm on Saturday for the first day since the nationwide ceasefire took effect late last year, the Observatory said.

“Maintenance workers began their work as soon as they entered (Wadi Barada) on Friday,” a source in the provincial governor’s office told AFP.

He said they were still assessing the damage and would then have to prepare the necessary equipment before being able to restore the supply.

The United Nations says that 5.5 million people in Damascus and its suburbs have been without mains water because of the cut.

courtesy : express tribune

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