November 24, 2018 / 2:38 PM / 17 days ago

Shelling exchange injures dozens in Syria's Aleppo city, kills nine in Idlib

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Insurgent shells wounded dozens of people in Syria’s Aleppo, causing choking, state media said on Saturday, and a monitor said government shelling killed nine people in rebel-held Idlib.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the two women and seven children were killed in Jarjanaz village in Idlib province, where Russia and Turkey have agreed a buffer zone.

The UK-based Observatory also said shelling on Aleppo city, which in under government control, wounded at least 32 people including six children, causing breathing difficulties.

State news agency SANA, citing a health official, said militants hit two districts of Aleppo with shells containing gases that caused 50 people to choke.

A witness outside al-Razi hospital in Aleppo said the shelling caused dozens of injuries including among women and children.

The deal to create the demilitarized zone staved off an army offensive against the Idlib region, including nearby parts of Aleppo and Hama provinces.

Intermittent exchanges of fire have broken out in northwest Syria since the agreement between Russia, a key ally of Damascus, and Turkey, which backs some rebel factions.

The United Nations says nearly 3 million people live in the northwest region and has warned against a battle to restore state rule there.

Among an array of factions controlling Idlib, the dominant force is Tahrir al-Sham, an Islamist alliance led by fighters formerly linked to al Qaeda.

Earlier this month, Moscow accused insurgents of trying to wreck the deal, while rebels accused the Syrian army and its allies of attacking the region.

Reporting by Ellen Francis; editing by Jason Neely, Richard Balmforth

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