Syria regime shelling kills 7 civilians in Idlib: Monitor
AFP, Saturday 24 Nov 2018

Syrian regime shelling killed seven civilians including five children Saturday in a planned buffer zone around the country's last major rebel bastion, a monitor said.

A teacher and four schoolchildren were among the victims after the shelling hit near a school in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey in September agreed to set up a demilitarised cordon around the region of Idlib to stave off a massive regime offensive.

But the deal's implementation has stalled after jihadists refused to withdraw from the expected buffer zone by a mid-October deadline, and sporadic shelling and clashes have since rocked the area.

The teacher and four children were leaving the school in the town of Jarjanaz in the southeast of Idlib province when the artillery fire hit, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Saturday's killings are the latest in a string of similar incidents, according to the Britain-based monitor, which says it relies on sources inside Syria for its information.

On November 2, regime shelling killed at least five civilans in the same town of Jarjanaz.

On October 26, artillery fire by pro-government forces killed seven civilians in the town of Al-Rifa inside the Idlib region.

The September 17 deal was intended to protect three million inhabitants in the Idlib region, more than half of which is held by an alliance led by jihadists of Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate.

Syria's regime has insisted that the buffer zone deal is temporary and that Idlib will eventually revert to government control.

Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.