18 killed in air strikes on rebel stronghold in Syria

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At least 18 people, including women and children, have been killed in air strikes on areas in the last major rebel stronghold in north-west Syria.

Opposition activists said several other people were wounded in the attacks, which came as a three-month truce crumbled.

The air strikes on Idlib province have intensified over the past few weeks as the government appears to be preparing for an offensive on rebel-held areas east of the province to secure the main road that links the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo.

Rescuers search for victims under the rubble of a destroyed building in the village of Ibdeita, Idlib province (Syrian Civil Defence White Helmets

Most of the casualties occurred in the village of Balyoun, according to opposition groups, with eight people killed.

Four people, including a child and two women, were killed in air strikes on the rebel-held village of Bara. Five others were killed in Ibdeita, and a child was killed in a nearby village.

Syrian troops launched a four-month offensive earlier this year on Idlib, which is dominated by al-Qaida-linked militants. The government offensive forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

A fragile ceasefire halted the government advance in late August but has been repeatedly violated in recent weeks.

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