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Air raids on rebel-held Idlib province intensified

Air raids on rebel-held Idlib province intensified
From Al Jazeera - February 5, 2018

Images of death and destruction from the northern province of Idlib in Syria have flooded social media, with local activists and aid workers saying shelling by Russian and Syrian government warplanes in the area has intensified.

Rescue workers from the Syrian Civil Defence (SCD), a volunteer search and rescue team, say that at least 18 civilians have been killed and more than 45 wounded in the continuous bombardment and a gas attack on the rebel-held province since Sunday night.

"The Russians are in a frenzy. They are going mad. The shelling is ongoing throughout the day and night. The warplanes are hitting residential areas," Hadi Abdullah, a local journalist, told Al Jazeera by phone from the town of Kafr Nabl in the northwestern Syrian province bordering Turkey.

"The massacres started yesterday night. The whole area was vibrating. About 12 homes came crumbling down," continued Hadi, describing the attacks on the town on Sunday night.

The uptick in attacks comes after fighters from the Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham group shot down a Russian warplane and killed its pilot on Saturday.

While Russia - the Syrian government's main ally - says it is targeting rebel fighters, locals say the majority of the attacks have been on residential neighbourhoods and hospitals.

The shelling spanned several areas, including Massaran, Khan al-Sabil, and Idlib city, where aid workers say many remain trapped under the rubble.

The main hospital in Maaret al-Numan, east of Kafr Nabl,has stopped working after it was hit by air raids, according to the SCD - also known as the White Helmets.

"About 10 air raids hit the hospital. It was a disaster," said Hadi, who had rushed to the scene.

"The most difficult and heartbreaking scene was when the volunteers were quickly pulling the babies out of the hospital. I ca not get the image out of my head," he recalled with a trembling voice.

At about 1am, Hadi headed to film events in Idlib city, where they had heard a Russian warplane targeted a residential building.

"A whole seven-story building came crashing down. The level of destruction is unreal," said Hadi.

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