BEIRUT — A suspected Syrian government airstrike on a market in a rebel-held town in northwest Syria killed 13 civilians on Monday, while Turkish artillery shells landed near a school in a Kurdish-held town, killing at least nine people, including eight children, activists said.
The violence is contributing to rising tension in Syria’s north, along the border with Turkey. Syrian government troops have renewed a push against the last opposition stronghold, which is in Idlib Province. And Turkey, which views Syrian Kurdish fighters as an existential threat, has been expanding its military operations there to push the Kurdish fighters farther from the border.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, said the Syrian airstrike hit a popular market in the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan, killing 13 people and injuring 18. The opposition-run Aleppo Media Center also put the death toll at 13, although the Syrian Civil Defense, a team of emergency medical workers known as the White Helmets, said that nine civilians, including two women, had been killed.
Different casualty tolls are common in the chaos of the civil war. Over the weekend, fighting between Syrian government forces and insurgents in Idlib resulted in dozens of deaths on both sides.
“The bombardment of the market that was packed with civilians led to a massacre and wide destruction,” the Civil Defense said on its Facebook page, which also had photos of bodies and paramedics helping victims.
The Observatory also reported a Russian airstrike on and around the central prison in the city of Idlib amid reports from other activist groups that some inmates had managed to escape.
Syrian troops began an offensive earlier this year on Idlib, which is dominated by militants opposed to the government. A fragile cease-fire halted the government advance in late August, but it has been repeatedly violated in recent weeks.
According to both the Observatory and the Kurdish news agency Hawar, Turkish shells landed in the town of Tal Rifaat, in Aleppo Province, near a school. The Observatory said nine people were killed, while Hawar put the death toll at 10. Both said eight children were killed in the shelling.
Tal Rifaat, a Kurdish-held town, is squeezed between areas controlled by the Syrian government and territory controlled by Turkey-backed fighters.