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BEIRUT: Five civilians were killed and more than 20 others wounded Saturday in Syrian army bombardment of the country’s last major rebel bastion, a war monitor said.

“Regime forces directly targeted residential areas of the city of Idlib,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that industrial areas were also hit, as well as “residential areas in the town of Sarmin” nearby.

Five people, all of them civilians, were killed in Idlib and Sarmin, while “24 other civilians were wounded in different parts” of Idlib province, added the Britain-based Observatory.

An AFP correspondent said two children were among the dead.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syria branch, controls swathes of Idlib province and parts of the neighbouring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.

HTS is considered a terrorist group by Damascus, as well as by the United States and the European Union.

Parts of the rebel bastion have seen fierce fighting in recent days, according to the Observatory.

On Friday, it said 11 pro-government forces and five HTS fighters had been killed after the launched an attack in neighbouring Aleppo province a day earlier.

Late last month, Syrian government bombardment killed nine civilians including six children as they harvested olives in Idlib province, reported the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.

Civil war erupted in Syria after President Bashar al-Assad crushed peaceful anti-government protests in 2011.

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