Syrian regime rocket fire killed nine people including three children at makeshift camps for displaced people in the country’s last major rebel-held bastion early Sunday, a war monitor said.
The dead included three children among seven civilians, and two unidentified individuals, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a broad network of sources on the ground.
An earlier Observatory toll reported six civilians dead, including two youngsters.
It said another 75 people were wounded when more than 30 rockets exploded in several areas, including the camps, west of the city of Idlib in Syria’s northwest.
Shelling continued later in the morning at several locations in the area, and the opposition targeted regime positions in retaliation for the strikes, according to the Observatory.
An AFP correspondent saw flimsy tents destroyed and burned, blood stains and rocket debris at the scene.
At a nearby hospital, the correspondent saw the bodies of two young girls.
Abu Hamid, a camp resident, said: “We awoke this morning and were getting ready for work when we began hearing the sounds of strikes.”
The 67-year-old said: “The children were afraid and began screaming. We didn’t know where to go. It wasn’t one rocket or two, but a dozen. The shrapnel was flying from every direction. We didn’t know how to protect ourselves.”
The last pocket of armed opposition to President Bashar Assad’s regime includes large swathes of Idlib province and parts of the neighboring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, headed by ex-members of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda franchise, is the dominant group in the area but other groups are also active.
According to the Observatory, the rocket fire came the day after five Syrian forces members died in shelling by a group affiliated with HTS.
The Idlib region is home to about 3 million people, around half of them displaced.
They are among the millions displaced internally and abroad by the war in Syria since 2011.