Mystery Blast in Northern Syria Kills at Least 36

Reuters

A tractor clears the rubble of destroyed buildings, August 13, 2018, following an explosion at an arms depot in a residential area in Syria's northern Idlib province city of Sarmada in which dozens of people were reportedly killed.

Five people were pulled out alive.

Women and children were among the dead, the United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported.

Three members of the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham were also killed, he said.

A rescue worker carried the motionless body of a small child from the wreckage to an ambulance, the AFP correspondent said.

One of the buildings was scorched black after a fire followed the explosion.

Syrian White Helmet workers at the scene of an explosion in the village of Sarmada.

The air strikes and barrel bombs targeted the key opposition-held province of Idlib and a rebel town in the adjacent province of Aleppo.

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A series of explosions has rocked Idlib province in recent months.

While some attacks have been claimed by Daesh, most are the result of infighting since past year between various other groups.

In recent weeks, the Syrian government and its main ally Russian Federation have stepped up an offensive to defeat rebels holding territory in Syria, capturing a string of villages straddling the southern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra, as they edge closer to a 1974 demilitarised zone with Israel .

At least 53 civilians including 28 children, have been killed in fierce bombardment Friday that targeted rebel-held areas of northern Syria, a war monitor said updating an earlier toll. They are considered a terrorist organization by Russian Federation and the Syrian regime.

Regime leader Bashar al Assad has warned that government forces intend to retake control of Idlib, after his Russia-backed regime regained chunks of territory from rebels and fighters in other parts of Syria.

Idlib is the last of four "de-escalation" zones agreed by world powers in 2017 where the rebels still have a major presence.

Jan Egeland, head of the UN's humanitarian taskforce for Syria, said the war "cannot be allowed to go to Idlib".

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