POST TIME: 23 July, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Russian air strikes on Syria market kill 23: Monitor
AFP, Maaret Al-Numan

Russian air strikes on Syria market kill 23: Monitor

Members of the Syrian civil defence, known as the White Helmets, pull out an injured but alive child from under the rubble following a Russian air strike on Maaret al-Numan in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province yesterday in the latest violence to plague the opposition bastion, as the Damascus regime and its Russian ally have stepped up their deadly bombardment of Idlib since late April. AFP photo

Russian air strikes on a market in northwestern Syria killed 23 people yesterday, a monitor said, in the latest violence to plague the country's last major opposition bastion. Moscow, however, denied it was responsible, calling the reports "fake". Russia's defence ministry on Monday denied reports that it was responsible for an air strike on a Syrian market that killed 23 people.

"The statements of anonymous representatives of the White Helmets organisation financed by Britain and the US about an alleged strike by Russian planes on a market in Maaret al-Numan are fake," said a defence ministry statement quoted by TASS state news agency.

The jihadist-run Idlib region, home to some three million people, is supposed to be protected by a months-old international truce deal, but it has come under increased bombardment by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia since late April.

The spike in violence has killed more than 650 civilians and damaged or knocked out of service two dozen health facilities.

More than 330,000 people have fled violence in the area over the past three months, according to the United Nations.

On yesterday morning, 19 civilians and four people still to be identified were killed in raids that hit a vegetable market and surrounding areas in the town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least a further 45 people were wounded, according to the monitor, which said the death toll could rise as many of those injured were in a critical condition and people were still trapped under rubble.

The Britain-based Observatory says it relies on a network

of sources inside Syria and determines whose planes carried out air strikes according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions involved.

Men drenched in blood were carried away from the site of the attack by residents and rescue workers, who used mattresses as makeshift stretchers, an AFP photographer said.

He saw the corpse of one man sprawled on the ground near a motorcycle, rubble surrounding his lifeless body.

With his eyes closed and his face covered in dust, another man clutched the arms of two people helping him out of the area, the photographer added.