190509 Idlib
Members of the Syrian Civil Defence (White Helmets) clear rubble to open a road following reported shelling on the village of Ibdita in the Idlib province on May 8, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Beirut: Ten civilians were killed in Syria’s northwest Idlib region Wednesday in air raids by the regime of President Bashar Al Assad and his Russian allies, a monitoring group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.

The deaths took place in an area where extremist rebel groups dominated by Al Qaida’s former Syrian branch, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) are active.

The regime and Russia have been stepping up bombardments there in the past few days, and hospitals and schools have been hit by air strikes.

The UN Security Council is to meet Friday to discuss the escalation in the fighting in the Idlib region.

The EU on Wednesday called the attacks on the hospitals and schools “an unacceptable violation of international law”.

Western powers are concerned that the Russia-backed Syrian government will launch a full-scale assault despite a deal reached with rebel-backer Turkey to set up a de-escalation zone in Idlib.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the 10 civilians killed included a young girl.

It also said that 18 extremist and rebels were killed in the air raids or in fighting with pro-government forces. Those regime forces lost nine fighters, it said.

More than 150,000 people have fled fighting in northwest Syria in just one week, between the end of April and the first week of May, the UN said on Tuesday. Most of the region’s three million inhabitants live off humanitarian aid.