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Ten killed in Syria regime rocket strikes: monitor

A war monitor said 75 people were wounded in the shelling
— Kafr Jales (Syria) (AFP)

Syrian regime rocket fire on Sunday killed 10 people including three children at makeshift camps for displaced people in the country's last major rebel-held bastion, a war monitor said.

The dead included eight civilians and two unidentified individuals, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, revising up an earlier toll of nine killed.

Another 77 people were reported injured in bouts of rocket fire.

More than 30 rockets exploded in the morning in several areas, including the camps, situated west of the city of Idlib in Syria's northwest.

Shelling continued later in the morning at several locations in the area, and rebels targeted government positions in retaliation for the strikes, according to the Observatory, which has a broad network of sources on the ground.

Syrian opposition fighters fire artillery at pro-government forces in Idlib province Sunday in retaliation for deadly shelling earlier in the day

In the late afternoon, regime forces launched a new round of strikes on Kafr Lata in southern Idlib, killing one person and injuring three others while they were picking olives, the monitor said.

The monitor said the shelling came in response to renewed fire from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militant group, headed by ex-members of Syria's former Al-Qaeda franchise.

An AFP correspondent in Kafr Jales saw flimsy tents destroyed and burned, blood stains and rocket debris at the scene.

- 'Children screaming' -

An injured child receives treament at the hospital run by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)

At a nearby hospital, the correspondent saw the bodies of two young girls.

"We woke this morning and were getting ready for work when we began hearing the sounds of strikes," camp resident Abu Hamid said.

"The children were afraid and began screaming", the 67-year-old continued.

"We didn't know where to go. It wasn't one rocket or two, but a dozen. The shrapnel was flying from every direction. We didn't know how to protect ourselves."

The last pocket of armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's regime includes large swathes of Idlib province and parts of the neighbouring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.

HTS is the dominant group in the area but other rebel groups are also active.

According to the Observatory, the rocket fire came a day after five Syrian forces members died in shelling by a group affiliated with HTS.

The Idlib region is home to about three million people, around half of them displaced.

Blood stains and personal belongings are strewn on the floor of a shack for displaced persons after the shelling

They are among the millions displaced internally and abroad by the war in Syria since 2011. Nearly half a million people have been killed.

With Russian and Iranian support, Damascus clawed back much of the ground lost in the early stages of Syria's conflict, which erupted in 2011 when the government brutally repressed pro-democracy protests.

Despite periodic clashes, a ceasefire reached in 2020 by Moscow and Turkey -- which supports anti-Assad rebels -- has largely held in the northwest.

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