Syrian army: Israel launches air strikes near Damascus

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Just on Sunday, at least 23 were killed and scores injured in an explosion targeting the minor rebel faction.

SOHR believes the explosion was caused by either a vehicle bomb or a drone attack that targeted the headquarters of a rebel group that operates in Idlib province.

Idlib province, which borders Turkey, is nearly entirely controlled by anti-government forces that are dominated by a jihadist outfit known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) consisting mostly of fighters from a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

His comments came after Syrian government forces captured fourteen villages as they advanced to reach a rebel-held air base in Idlib province.

The Syrian Army and air force are also battering Eastern Ghouta, the other large rebel enclave just east of Damascus, the capture of which would give Mr Assad full control of the capital and the area round it, something he has not enjoyed since 2011. It has since been making swift advances.

Government forces backed up by Russian air power are in the midst of conducting an operation to gain a foothold in the southeast of Idlib province.

The officials said that around half of the civilian population of 2 million people in Idlib province had already been living in "extremely dire" circumstances before being forced to again flee in the winter cold.

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The raid left "at least 21 dead, including eight children and 11 members of the same family" west of the town of Sinjar in the southeast of the province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Israel insists that it supports neither of the parties to the Syrian conflict and is not involved in the talks to resolve the crisis in that country.

The majority of the deaths were fighters from the rebel group, in addition to seven civilians, with several people still unaccounted for, it said.

Syria also claimed in the letter that the United States "frees Israel" from all responsibility, allowing the the country to carry out acts of terror against countries in the region and threaten regional and global peace and security.

The sources also reported that heavy fighting has erupted between the civilians and Al-Nusra terrorists in Asqat region in the town of Saqlin in Northern Idlib.

Idlib is supposed to be one of the so-called de-escalation zones set up in Syria a year ago with the backing of Russia, Iran and Turkey.

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