Russian-backed government forces have targeted the village of Kansfara, south of Idlib province, killing four children in a series of attacks on the rebel stronghold in northwestern Syria.
The children’s mother survived with her baby during the attack. Her husband was tending sheep near the village, and rushed to his wife after hearing the sound of the attack on Friday to find his children had been crushed under the rubble of his house.
Attacks that hit another house resulted in the injury of three civilian farm workers, and two other children were wounded as a result of artillery fire that targeted western Aleppo province, bordering Idlib.
The two children were visiting the grave of their father in the village of Kafr Naha, west of Aleppo province. One of them, an eight year old, was taken to a Turkish hospital.
“There was a Russian military reconnaissance plane since five in the morning in the skies of Kansafra, and after half an hour the attack began,” Mustafa al-Hussein, an activist living in the village, told Al Jazeera.
“We rushed to the scene of the attack on foot for fear of reconnaissance aircraft. We arrived too late, we found the children turned to pieces between the ruins,” he added.
Laser missile attacks known as “Krasnopol” have recently been a common method to strike southern Idlib, where reconnaissance planes give precise coordinates to launch rocket attacks.
The attacks came a day after five children were killed south of Idlib as a result of similar strikes, followed by Russian air raids on the village of Ein Shib, west of Idlib city.
On Wednesday, three civilians, including a child, were killed in rocket attacks targeting Turkish-controlled Afrin north of Aleppo, which is connected to Idlib province.
The attack on Afrin was launched from areas under the control of the government and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is a predominantly Kurdish force and receives military support from the US-led international coalition.
Russian media reported the attacks targeted opposition fighters, although civilians in Idlib disagreed. The Sputnik news agency said 35 members of the Group of Hurras al-Din, the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda, were killed.