United Nations rights chief condemns upsurge in civilian casualties in Syria's de-escalation areas

More than 80 people were reportedly wounded in the bombardments of the rebel territory

United Nations rights chief condemns upsurge in civilian casualties in Syria's de-escalation areas

The retaking of control of the military facilities would enable government forces to better secure the main road from Damascus to Aleppo. It said troops approaching from the south are now 2 kilometres away from the base.

France said on Wednesday it was extremely concerned by the government offensive in Idlib, the biggest remaining chunk of Syria still held by anti-government rebels, and demanded that commitments made to reduce hostilities there be respected.

Russian Federation has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad while Turkey has supported his foes, but they struck a deal a year ago to set up de-escalation zones in Syria, helping reduce fighting.

On Wednesday, 35 soldiers were killed at the airport, according to the Observatory.

The fighting and air strikes have forced more than 60,000 people to leave their homes since November 1, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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"In Idlib, ground attacks and airstrikes have escalated as a rapidly-moving government offensive gains momentum, jeopardizing the safety of hundreds of thousands of civilians", said Zeid.

It also said it was "outraged" by the ongoing siege in Eastern Ghouta, another rebel-held area, where the United Nations human rights chief said on Wednesday that at least 85 civilians have been killed since December 31.

The push toward Abu Zuhour came as the opposition's Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported several explosions in the coastal province of Latakia, an Assad stronghold.

Syrian state media, citing a foreign ministry source, said the French foreign ministry had shown "great ignorance about what was happening in rural Idlib province", which it said the army was fighting to "liberate from the terrorism of the Nusra Front and the other terrorist organisations that belong to it".

Russian Federation entered the civil war in 2015 to bolster government forces, helping them to secure a series of victories against the Islamic State group as well as mainstream rebels.

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