Smoke billows from the Al-Arshani water station, after it was reportedly hit by a Russian airstrike, in the village of the same name, north of the rebel-held city of Idlib, Jan 2, 2022. (OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)
AMMAN – Russian jets bombed areas near the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib on Sunday, witnesses and rebel sources said, marking a new year flare-up for the last opposition-held bastion.
War planes flying at high altitude, which tracking centers said were Russian Sukhoi jets, dropped bombs on several towns and a main water pumping station serving the overcrowded city of Idlib, whose wider population is more than a million.
ALSO READ: Toll on war's youngest victims to haunt Syria, says UNICEF
No immediate comment was available from Russia or Syria's army, which says it targets the hideouts of militant groups who control the region but deny any attacks on civilians.
Continued destruction of civilian infrastructure will only cause more suffering of civilians. Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure must stop.
Mark Cutts, UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator
An official at the city's water utility service said it was out of action as a result of the strikes.
A senior UN official who confirmed the water station was "badly damaged" in an airstrike said such attacks worsened the humanitarian plight of millions of displaced Syrians.
"Continued destruction of civilian infrastructure will only cause more suffering of civilians. Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure must stop," UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator Mark Cutts said in a tweet.
Witnesses said the strikes in the last 24 hours in the rebel-held enclave also hit livestock and poultry farms close to the Bab al Hawa border crossing with Turkey.
"The Russians are focusing on infrastructure and economic assets. This is to add to the suffering of people," Abu Hazem Idlibi, an official in the opposition administration, said.
Other targets included villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya region in the southern part of Idlib province, with no immediate reports of casualties, residents and rescuers said.
READ MORE: UN seeks US$10b for Syrians as humanitarian needs soar
In this Jan 2, 2022 photo, people assess the damage at the Al-Arshani water station, after it was reportedly hit by a Russian airstrike, in the village of the same name, north of the rebel-held city of Idlib. (OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)
A series of raids after midnight on Saturday hit makeshift camps that house thousands of displaced families near Jisr al Shuqhur, west of Idlib with two children and a woman were killed and 10 civilians wounded, the civil defence service said.
A woman hangs laundry in a flooded refugee camp in Idlib province, Syria, Dec 21, 2021. (GHAITH ALSAYED / AP)
There has been a relative lull in airstrikes since November after a renewed Russian-led campaign followed by Turkish army reinforcements inside the enclave raised the prospect of a wider resumption of violence.
A deal brokered nearly two years ago between Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar al Assad's forces, and Turkey, which supports opposition groups, ended fighting that had displaced more than a million people within a few months.