According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Russian airstrikes against two villages in northern Syria, the Idlib village of Maarat al-Naasan and the Aleppo village of Maskanah, have hit marketplaces, killing a large number of civilians.
16 civilians have been reported killed so far in Maarat al-Nassan, and 23 others in Maskanah, with large numbers of wounded leading to the warning that the overall civilian death toll is likely to rise, potentially significantly. Four ISIS fighters were also killed in the strikes on Maskanah.
Maskaneh, on the shores of Lake Assad, is on the main highway between the ISIS capital city of Raqqa and the city of Aleppo. ISIS is among several factions trying to get a foothold in Aleppo, formerly Syria’s industrial and financial hub. The city has been contested for years now, and is in ruins.
Maarat al-Nassan, by contrast, is just south of the city of Idlib, the capital of al-Qaeda’s territory inside Syria. Russian airstrikes have heavily focused on al-Qaeda territory in the northwest, aiming to stall the expansion of al-Qaeda into Latakia, and to allow Syria to ultimately shore up its control over the routes between Damascus and the coast.
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