Sukhoi jets targeted several towns and a water station serving the overcrowded northern city of Idlib, whose wider population is more than a million, witnesses and opposition sources say.

Water station in Idlib went out of action after it was hit by Russian air strikes, local administration says.
Water station in Idlib went out of action after it was hit by Russian air strikes, local administration says. (AFP)

Russian jets have bombed areas near the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, witnesses and opposition sources said, marking a new year flare-up for the last opposition-held bastion.

War planes flying at high altitude on Sunday, which tracking centres said were Russian Sukhoi jets, dropped bombs on several towns and a water pumping station serving the overcrowded city of Idlib, whose wider population is more than a million.

No immediate comment was available from Russia or the Syrian army, which says it targets the hideouts of militant groups who control the region but deny any attacks on civilians.

An official at the city's water utility service said it was out of action as a result of the strikes.

Witnesses said the strikes in the last twenty four hours in the opposition and rebel-held enclave also hit livestock and poultry farms close to the Bab al Hawa border crossing with Turkiye.

"The Russians are focusing on infrastructure and economic assets. This is to add to the suffering of people," Abu Hazem Idlibi, an official in the opposition administration, said.

Other targets included villages in the Jabal al Zawiya region in the southern part of Idlib province, with no immediate reports of casualties, residents and rescuers said.

READ MORE: Russian air strike kills civilians in northwestern Syria

Series of raids

A series of raids after midnight on Saturday hit makeshift camps that house thousands of displaced families near Jisr al Shuqhur, west of Idlib with two children and a woman were killed and 10 civilians wounded, the civil defence service said.

There has been a relative lull in air strikes since November after a renewed Russian-led campaign followed by Turkish army reinforcements inside the enclave raised the prospect of a wider resumption of violence.

In May 2017, Turkiye, Russia, and Iran announced that they had reached an agreement to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib as part of the Astana meetings related to the Syrian crisis.

However, it was only after Turkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed on March 5, 2020 to a new truce in Idlib to end hostilities and attacks on civilians that effective de-escalation took place, with the exception of sporadic shelling by the regime and other forces.

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Source: Reuters