Jets believed to be Russian bombed rebel-held areas in northwest Syria on Wednesday amid increased shelling of towns by the Syrian army that threatened the collapse of a fragile Russian-brokered ceasefire, two opposition sources and residents said.
The jets that flew overnight at high altitudes struck a village near Kafr Takhareem and an area near the town of Darkoush, both in rural areas in western Idlib province, two opposition sources and a resident in the area said.
The overnight bombing raid came hours after air strikes hit a part of the northwest for the first time since the truce was declared 11 days ago, according to activists and a monitor. Moscow denied conducting the first strikes.
Russia said the Syrian government unilaterally agreed to a truce on Aug. 31 in opposition-controlled Idlib, where a "de-escalation zone" was brokered two years ago between Russia and Turkey.
Since then, the intense air strikes by Russian and Syrian warplanes that had accompanied the Russian-backed ground offensive to retake the area had stopped.
The Syrian army, aided by Iran-backed militias, also pounded several towns in southern Idlib, including Kafr Sejnah and Hazareen, in what the opposition says has been a persistent pattern of shelling of opposition-held areas despite the truce deal.
"Artillery shelling that has targeted villages of southern Idlib has not stopped since the alleged ceasefire," Mohammad Rashid, spokesman for the Jaish al-Nasr opposition group said.
The opposition official said jets believed to be Russian also hit for the second time rebel positions in a mountain range in the coastal province of Latakia, after a similar raid on Tuesday.
The opposition say Russian special forces and Iranian-backed militias fighting alongside the Syrian army have also breached the ceasefire by trying several times to storm opposition-held areas in the last week only to be repelled so far.