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BEIRUT: Syrian regime bombardment killed at least 11 people including nine civilians Tuesday in the northwestern region of Idlib where government and rebel backers agreed a "demilitarised zone", a monitor said.

Idlib, the last major part of Syria still outside the control of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, has been hit by sporadic government shelling for weeks despite the deal between pro-Assad Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

Tuesday's bombing of Maaret al-Numan came as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, gained full control of the town, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

"Eleven people -- including nine civilians, two of them children -- were killed by artillery and missile fire" from government forces, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

"This was the first government bombing of Maaret al-Numan... since the Russia-Turkey accord" was signed on September 17, he added.

The deal was intended to spare Idlib and its three million inhabitants from a potentially devastating government offensive near the Turkish border.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham sealed its grip on Idlib on January 10, when it reached a ceasefire deal with the remnants of a rival alliance following days of deadly fighting.

The deal allowed an administrative body created by the jihadists, the "Salvation Government", to extend its grip over most of Idlib province and parts of neighbouring provinces of Aleppo and Hama.

Monday's implementation of that plan raised tensions between HTS and rebel groups, which left the town as a result, said the Observatory.

Syria's complex war has killed at least 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2019