Syrian shelling of opposition-held town close to Turkey border kills four

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Syrian government shelling of an opposition-held town near the border with Turkey on Saturday killed four people and wounded more than a dozen, Syrian opposition activists said.

The shelling of the town of Sarmada comes amid increasing tensions in the last opposition stronghold in the Syrian northwest, where a truce reached in March last year has been repeatedly violated in recent weeks.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group, said three of the dead were local policemen whose station received a direct hit. It said 17 people were also wounded.

The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, said the shelling was concentrated on Sarmada and a road linking it with the border crossing point of Bab al-Hawa with Turkey. The Civil Defense also said four persons were killed but gave a higher number of wounded, 23.

A truce negotiated between Turkey, which supports Syria’s opposition, and Russia, the Syrian government’s main backer, ended a crushing Russian-backed government offensive on northwestern Syria in March last year.

In other developments, a roadside bomb hit a Turkish military convoy on Friday night, killing two soldiers and wounding five on the road leading to Bab al-Hawa, according to Turkish media and the Observatory.

The Observatory said the attack was claimed by a group known as Supporters of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Company, a militant group that has claimed previous attacks on Turkish forces.

The region, consisting of parts of Idlib and Aleppo provinces, is home to about 4 million people, many of them displaced by Syria’s 10-year conflict.

The conflict that began in March 2011 killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million, including more than 5 million refugees who are now outside the war-torn nation.

Read more: Turkey says will do ‘what is necessary’ after cross-border attacks from Syria

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