Death toll from Russian air strikes in Idlib climbs to 23

At least 23 people were killed in Russian air strikes overnight in the Syrian rebel-held city of Idlib.

FILE: A handout image released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency on 5 May, 2016 shows a car burning at the site of a bomb attack in Mukharram al-Fawqani in Homs province. Picture: AFP.

BEIRUT - At least 23 people were killed in Russian air strikes overnight in the Syrian rebel-held city of Idlib, the heaviest bombardment there since a cessation of hostilities was agreed in February, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory said the air strikes targeted a number of positions in the city, one of them next to a hospital. Seven children were among the dead, Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said. The toll was likely to rise.

Rescue workers in Idlib worked through the night searching for casualties, finding some survivors including a child under the rubble of destroyed buildings, the Civil Defense in Idlib said on its Facebook page.

Idlib city and the province by the same name is a stronghold of rebel groups including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

The Russian air force deployed to Syria last year to support President Bashar al-Assad in the war with rebels seeking to end his rule.