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Monitor: Syrian government shelling of rebel bastion kills four

At least four people were killed on Saturday in a shelling attack by Syrian government forces on a rebel stronghold in the north-west of the war-torn country, a war monitor reported.

At least four people were killed on Saturday in a shelling attack by Syrian government forces on a rebel stronghold in the north-west of the war-torn country, a war monitor reported.

Seventeen others were injured in the attack on the town of Sarmada in the province of Idlib near the border with Turkey, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added.

The shelling hit a police station and a refugee camp in the town, it said. The fatalities included three local police personnel.

The attack also coincided with the entry of relief aid convoys into the area, the British-based watchdog added.

Military reinforcements had been dispatched to the Syrian forces, signalling a looming battle to recapture Idlib, according to the observatory.

Idlib is the last rebel stronghold in Syria. Russian-supported Syrian government forces launched a major offensive in the region in 2019, raising UN concerns over the safety of the civilians there.

Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has been supporting opposition forces since an uprising started against al-Assad in 2011.

Russia and Turkey agreed on a ceasefire for the long-disputed area in March of last year. Since then the violence has decreased.

Nevertheless, the area has repeatedly come under shelling attacks by government troops.

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