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DAMASCUS, Syria -- Insurgents fired rockets into a government-held town in northwestern Syria on Sunday, killing a woman and five children, state media and a local priest said.

State TV said the shelling just before noon caused widespread material damage in the Christian-majority town of Suqailabiyah. Several people were said to have been wounded.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said Syrian troops retaliated by firing shells toward insurgents' positions on the southern edge of Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the country. The Al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is the main insurgent group in the area.

Priest Maher Haddad said a rocket struck near a group of children playing near a monastery, instantly killing five of them and wounding others. He said the sixth victim, a 35-year-old woman, was killed on a nearby street by a separate rocket.

"The kids went out to play after some days of calm," Haddad said, noting that the town had gone days without being targeted by insurgents who were pushed farther north by the Syrian army.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war-monitoring group, also reported that six people were killed. It said eight others, including six children, were wounded.

The Observatory said government shelling of a rebel-held village to the north killed one person and wounded others.

The insurgent enclave has been rocked by a wave of violence since April 30, leaving dozens of people dead or wounded while forcing about 150,000 people to flee their homes in rebel-held areas. Idlib is home to about 3 million people, many of them displaced from other parts of the country.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive under the cover of airstrikes for days, capturing several strategic locations and villages.

Sunday's deaths marked another blow to a cease-fire brokered in September by Russia and Turkey. The truce avoided a government offensive in Idlib province.

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency on Sunday reported Turkish military deployments in southeastern Kilis province and southern Hatay province, both bordering Syria. The commando and armored vehicle deployments were intended to reinforce border units, according to the news agency.

The Observatory said 297 people have been killed since the latest wave of violence began.

A Section on 05/13/2019

Print Headline: Insurgents' rockets kill 6 people in Syrian town


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