Officials: Attacks in Aleppo, holiday area kill about 50 near end of cease-fire

ALEPPO, Syria, July 8 (UPI) — Military and insurgent attacks across Syria have killed about 50 people and wounded many more in the last couple days, officials said on the last day of an oft-ignored cease-fire.

An airstrike Friday targeted a vacation area in Syria’s Idlib province, killing at least 23, officials said — and an earlier rebel assault against government forces in Aleppo killed at least 25.

The Syrian military strike hit in the town of Darkush, located near the Turkish border, where rebels, including the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, largely control the area.

Many of the dead and wounded are from surrounding areas who had traveled to Darkush to celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday. Among the victims, reportedly, are at least 10 women and two children.

Officials said the death toll could rise due to the number of critically wounded.

It wasn’t immediately known whether Syrian or Russian forces were responsible for the Darkush airstrike. Moscow has sent air forces to Syria for months to support Assad’s regime and quell rebels seeking to remove him from power.

Russian forces have also aided Syria’s government in attempting to crush militants of the Islamic State in the country, as have a U.S.-led coalition. It wasn’t believed, though, that the U.S. coalition was responsible for the strike.

In Aleppo, forces of President Bashar Assad strategically took actions against rebel positions and patrolled the only road leading to the rebel-held half of the city — which, with more than 2 million people, is Syria’s most populated.

“The Syrian government is now closer than ever to achieving its goal of surrounding Aleppo. This would isolate the city from other opposition controlled areas and from the border with Turkey. For the opposition, it’s a fight for survival,” Al Jazeera reporter Zeina Khodr said Friday.

Aleppo is seen as an important stronghold by both government and rebel forces in the ongoing civil war, which has raged for six years.

Friday’s violence arrived at the end of a 72-hour cease-fire imposed by the Syrian army on Wednesday — a pact that observers say had little impact on the fighting. Cease-fire negotiations in February stalled.

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