By Burak Karacaoglu and Esref Musa
Seven civilians have been killed by Russian airstrikes in the Khan Shaykhun district of Syria's Idlib province, which is part of a de-escalation zone in which fighting is banned, a local civil-defense official told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
According to the official, three districts within the Idlib de-escalation zone -- Khan Shaykhun, Saraqib and Kafr Nabl -- were targeted by Russian warplanes.
All targeted areas are held by Syria’s armed opposition and the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an armed anti-regime group.
Mostafa Haj Youssef, director of Syria’s White Helmets civil-defense force in Idlib, told Anadolu Agency that Russian planes had struck the village of Tibbesh in northern Khan Shaykhun on three separate occasions.
"Seven civilians were killed and nine more were injured," he said, going on to note that the casualties had included six children and one woman.
Pointing out that search-and-rescue operations had since concluded, Youssef said that all injured civilians had been taken to nearby hospitals.
Located in northern Syria near the Turkish border, Idlib falls within a network of de-escalation zones -- endorsed by Turkey, Russia
Nevertheless, since early last December, airstrikes on opposition-held parts of the province have seen an uptick, with over 100 civilians reportedly killed and scores more injured.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating civil war that began in early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.