Strikes on northwest Syria kill 1 person, cause wide damage

International

Blood is seen on a hospital floor in Atareb, a town in rural western Aleppo, Syria, Sunday, March 22, 2021. Artillery shells fired from government areas killed at least five civilians and wounded medical staff when they landad in front of the hospital. (AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed)

BEIRUT (AP) — Airstrikes on several locations in northwest Syria near the border with Turkey have killed at least one person and set afire several trucks used to distribute aid, opposition activists and a paramedic group said Monday.

The late Sunday attacks angered Turkey, which had asked Russia to secure an immediate end to the strikes, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said, adding that Turkish troops had been placed on alert.

Turkey and Russia support rival parties in Syria’s 10-year conflict. The countries reached a deal last March that stopped a Russian-backed government offensive on the northwestern Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in war-torn Syria.

Opposition activists claimed that Russian warplanes carried out the attacks near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey late Sunday, hours after government artillery shelling hit a major hospital in a rebel-controlled town in northwestern Syria. Six patients, including a child, were killed. Medical staff were wounded, forcing the facility to shut its doors.

The Bab al-Hawa border crossing is a main point from which aid is brought to rebel-held parts of northwest Syria.

Idlib-based journalist Salwa Abdul-Rahman said one of the strikes hit an area near the town of Sarmada, setting afire trucks used by aid workers to distribute assistance.

“The targeted locations were civilian with no military presence,” she said.

One person was killed in the strikes, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, and the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets.

The civil defense said that in addition to the trucks, the strikes targeted a cement factory. The truck fires were put under control hours later.

An AP video from the area showed about a dozen trucks on fire as civil defense members sprayed them with water.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry blamed Syrian government forces for the attack, saying it left several people wounded.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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