Russian jets intensified their raids on rebel-held towns and cities in Syria’s northern Idlib province on Sunday night, a day after rebels shot down a Russian warplane and killed its pilot, Reuters reported.
The civil defense sources said air raids struck the towns of Kafr Nubl and Maasran, as well as the cities of Saraqeb, Maarat al Numan and Idlib, and that several deaths and dozens of injuries were reported as rescuers dug through the rubble.
A hospital was hit in Maarat al Numan, witnesses and residents said, and at least five people were feared killed in another attack that damaged a residential building in Kafr Nubl.
Video footage recorded by rescuers showed babies on stretchers being rushed by civil defense workers out of the damaged hospital while other rescuers fought to extinguish a fire.
In Idlib city, the provincial capital, one witness said a five-storey building was leveled and that at least fifteen people were feared dead, Reuters reported.
In December, the Syrian army alongside Iranian-backed militias and heavy Russian airpower launched a major offensive to take territory in Idlib province, the last and most-densely populated province still mainly under opposition control.
Russia’s defense ministry and Syrian rebels said the Russian SU-25 jet was downed on Saturday in an area that has seen fierce fighting on the ground and heavy air strikes targeting rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
Syrians who oppose Assad view Russia as an invading force and blame it for the deaths of thousands of civilians since Moscow joined the war on the Syrian government’s side in 2015.
Russia’s Defense Ministry denies aiming at civilians and says it targets only hardline Islamist militants in Syria.
Air strikes on Saturday after the downing of the jet killed at least 10 people, including children, in Khan al Subl near where the plane crashed, rescuers said.
The bodies of a family of seven were pulled from rubble following another attack in the town of Maasran, a local civil defense body said.