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9 civillians killed in shelling exchange in Syria's Aleppo city; official media allege 'toxic gas' attack

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Beirut, Lebanon Nov 25, 2018, 09.13 AM (IST)

Syrian regime shelling killed nine civilians including seven children on Saturday in a planned buffer zone around the country's last major rebel bastion, the Observatory said.

A teacher and four school children were among the victims after the shelling hit near a school in the northwestern province of Idlib, said Abdel Rahman.

Later in the evening, in neighbouring Aleppo which is under Syrian regime control, official media accused the rebels of launching an attack with "toxic gas".

Regional head of health services, Ziad Hajj Taha, said it was a "probable" chlorine attack.

It is not the first time such accusations have been levelled against the rebels in Aleppo. On other occasions, the Syrian regime has been accused of using chemical weapons against rebel strongholds, which it has always denied.

The anti-IS alliance has repeatedly denied previous reports of civilians killed in its air strikes and said it does its utmost to avoid hitting non-combatants.

IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled but has lost most of it to offensives by multiple forces in both countries.

In Syria, the jihadists are largely confined to the pocket in Deir Ezzor, but they also have a presence in the vast Badia desert that stretches across the country to the Iraqi border.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number much higher.

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

Story highlights

A teacher and four school children were among the victims after the shelling hit near a school in the northwestern province of Idlib, said Abdel Rahman.