Russian jets break truce in northern Syria, civilians flee

Russian jets renewed attacks in a de-escalation zone in northern Syria on Monday where a ceasefire was agreed between Russia and Turkey in March, Reuters reported.

"The strikes hit villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya region in the southern part of Idlib province and two towns in the Sahel al-Ghab plain, west of Hama province," Reuters said, citing eyewitnesses. The attack was the first such air strike since the ceasefire deal, it said.

The bombardments were against militant hideouts in parts of the territory where Turkey has established a major military presence, according to rebel sources, Reuters said. 

Turkey and Russia brokered a ceasefire agreement on March 5 to end the fighting in Idlib between Turkish-backed forces and the Syrian military, which is backed by Russia.

The ceasefire came after a week-long Turkish military operation in Idlib, which was a response to an air strike killing 36 Turkish soldiers as part of the Syrian government’s months-long offensive to take back control of the province.

Hundreds of civilians were forced to flee the latest airstrikes, which were raising the spectre of a wider resumption of bombardments in Syria’s last rebel bastion, Reuters said.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on June 4 that Russian jets had already begun resuming air strikes in the region.