Violence in northern Syria kills 17, including whole family

BEIRUT — Airstrikes on rebel-held parts of northwestern Syria and the shelling of government-held areas killed at least 17 people Tuesday, including an entire family, Syrian opposition activists said.

The airstrikes and shelling came amid a government offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the country, and rebel-held parts of nearby Aleppo province.

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A new cessation of hostilities agreement between Russia and Turkey, who support opposite sides in the conflict, went into effect earlier this month. But the violence has continued.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Step news agency, an activist collective, said the nine were killed in the village of Kfar Taal before noon. They said the dead included a family of eight consisting of parents and their six children.

The Observatory said six other people were killed in other parts of northern Syria.

The opposition's Syrian Civil Defence, also known as White Helmets, said airstrikes killed at least 24 people, including 13 children.

The Observatory, Civil Defence and Step blamed Russian warplanes for the strike.

Syrian state media said rebels shelling of the northern city of Aleppo killed two women and a child.

Different death tolls are no uncommon in Syria in the immediate aftermath of airstrikes.

The government offensive has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom fled to areas closer to the border with Turkey.

Dozens of fighters have been killed on both sides in recent days as clashes intensified.

Idlib province is dominated by al-Qaida-linked militants. It's also home to 3 million civilians and the United Nations has warned of the growing risk of a humanitarian catastrophe along the Turkish border.

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