Syrian government forces on Sunday shelled tent settlements housing displaced families in the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, a war monitor and first responders said.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, government forces fired about 30 rockets at rebel-held areas including the Maram camp, killing at least nine people and wounding dozens. Among the dead were three children and a woman.
The opposition Syrian Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, reported that the shelling of at least six camps killed nine and wounded 70.
Images from the scene at the Maram camp showed tents blown apart while rocket debris and blood stains dotted the ground.
One of the camp's residents, Abu Hamid, told news agency AFP that people were preparing for work when the strikes hit.
"The children were afraid and began screaming," the 67-year-old was quoted as saying.
"We didn't know where to go. It wasn't one rocket or two, but a dozen. The shrapnel was flying from every direction. We didn't know how to protect ourselves," he added.
According to the pro-government Sham FM radio station, Syrian government forces shelled positions of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, the most powerful militant group in Idlib. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham split from terrorist organization al-Qaeda in 2017.
Sham FM said Syrian and Russian warplanes also engaged in the attacks on Sunday.
Rebel factions responded by targeting government positions with artillery and missiles, the Observatory reported.
Rebel stronghold under attack
Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria, is home to about three million people, around half of them displaced.
The shelling is the latest violation of a March 2020 ceasefire between Russia and Turkey that ended a Russian-backed government offensive in the region.
Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011 and has since killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced half the country's pre-war population of 23 million and left large parts of Syria destroyed.
In the conflict, Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has been supporting opposition forces.
rs, dh/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)