A man on a rooftop surveys the scene in the town of Ariha, in northwestern Syria, on January 30, the morning after Russian warplanes are said to killed 11 civilians. (Anas Alkharboutli/picture alliance via Getty Images)

In the Charnel House of Idlib, More Death and Destruction (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

The Media Line speaks to a Syria expert about a government offensive, backed by Russian warplanes, aimed at dislodging some of the country’s last rebels

A Syrian military operation seeking to wrest back the country’s last rebel-held territory in what is an almost nine-year civil war has left at least 11 civilians – one of them a child – dead in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Members of the White Helmets, an opposition civil defense and rescue organization, say the Wednesday night airstrike on the town of Ariha was carried out by Russian warplanes, which have been backing Syrian troops during the month-long offensive.

The victims were heading away from the town to distance themselves from the latest ground fighting, which on Wednesday saw government troops retake a key location along the main road between Damascus and Aleppo, to the north.

The sweep in Idlib, according to aid workers and United Nations officials, has displaced an additional 400,000 people. Millions in total have had to flee fighting during the civil war – with many finding an uneasy refuge in neighboring Turkey – while estimates place the total dead at close to half a million.

To learn more about the latest in Idlib Province, The Media Line spoke with Zaki Mehchy, a Syria researcher at London’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House.

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