Syrian government warplane crashes in Idlib province

Damascus (Neo Web Desk) A Syrian government warplane has crashed in a marketplace in the north-western town of Ariha, killing at least 27 people, activists say.The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) activist group said the crash occurred amid bombing raids.Ariha was one of the last government strongholds in Idlib when it was captured by Islamist rebels in May.The fall of Ariha left most of Idlib province, bordering Turkey, in rebel hands.Separately, Airwars, a journalist group that archives the US-led coalition’s air campaign against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said that credible reports showed at least 489 civilians had been killed in the air strikes since August last year.In addition to those killed, the SOHR said at least 60 people had been injured in the Ariha incident. It is not clear whether the plane was shot down or crashed for another reason.The Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), a network of opposition activists, posted an image online of what it said was the aftermath of the crash, showing huge damage to the marketplace and surrounding buildings.An image supplied by the anti-government Ariha Today group which is said to show the area of the town affected by the crashIt said people were working to find survivors under the rubble and remove bodies.”The plane had dropped a bomb on the main bazaar street at low altitude only seconds before it crashed,” Ghazal Abdullah, a resident close to the incident told Reuters.In January Syrian officials said at least 35 soldiers were killed in a cargo plane crash in Idlib province.State media blamed that crash on “weather conditions and heavy fog” but al-Nusra rebels, linked to al-Qaeda, said they had shot down the cargo plane.Idlib is now mostly in the hands of the Jaish al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) rebel alliance that includes al-Nusra.Idlib has borders with Turkey to the north and the Syrian province of Latakia to the west. Latakia is the heartland of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect.Government forces have been fighting rebels in mountainous parts of Latakia, trying to prevent them reaching key coastal areas.

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