By Associated Press - Thursday, April 8, 2021

BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian government forces fired a missile at a civilian vehicle in a rebel-held village in the country’s northwest on Thursday, killing seven people, including three children from the same family, opposition activists said.

The attack took place near the village of Najia, close to front lines with government forces in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the war-torn country.

The missile killed two men, two women and three children, and wounded several others, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group, and an Idlib-based citizen journalist, Salwa Abdul-Rahman.

The U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, confirmed that three children from the same family were killed “when an attack hit the car” they were in.

“Ten years on (in) this brutal war, children continue to be killed and injured, day in, day out,” tweeted Ted Chaiban, UNICEF’s Mideast and North Africa director.

Despite a cease-fire that was reached in March last year between Turkey and Russia - a truce that stopped a Russian-backed government offensive on Idlib - there have been sporadic violations since then, which left scores dead and wounded. Russia and Turkey back rival groups in Syria’s conflict.

Syria’s 10-year conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million. More than 5 million Syrians are refugees, mostly in neighboring countries.

Last month, artillery shells fired from government areas hit a major hospital in a rebel-controlled town in northwestern Syria, killing at least six patients, including a child, wounding medical staff and forcing the facility to shut its doors.

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