Russian strikes said to kill 45 Syrian rebels

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Russian air strikes kill 45 members of a rebel group in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says Sunday.

It is unclear why the strikes, which took place Saturday, targeted members of the Faylaq al-Sham rebel group, which has taken part in peace talks supervised by Moscow in the Kazakh capital Astana.

The strikes hit the group in the province of Idlib, which is part of a so-called “de-confliction” zone agreed in a deal between Syrian regime allies Russia and Iran, and rebel backer Turkey.

The Observatory initially reported a lower toll, but says the figure had risen as bodies were recovered after the strike on one of the rebel group’s headquarters on the outskirts of the village of Tal Mardikh.

Faylaq al-Sham is an Islamist rebel group considered close to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and has fought against the former Al-Qaeda affiliate that now effectively controls nearly all of Idlib.

A spokesman for Faylaq al-Sham confirmed the group’s headquarters had been targeted, despite their participation in the last round of talks in Astana.

— AFP

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