Amman/Geneva — Russian and Syrian forces intensified air strikes and shelling in rebel-held northwestern Syria overnight, the heaviest assault since the area was declared a demilitarised zone under a Russian-Turkish deal, residents and medics said on Thursday. The targeted villages and towns in northern Hama and southern Idlib fall within a buffer zone agreed last September between Russia and Turkey as part of a deal which averted a major offensive on the area. Schools, health facilities and residential areas have been hit, UN regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis said on Thursday. “The barrel bombing is the worst we have seen for at least 15 months,” Moumtzis said. He added that 300,000 people live in the buffer zone where there are hostilities. Earlier this week, the US warned that violence in the buffer zone “will result in the destabilisation of the region”. Since Tuesday, attacks have forced thousands of civilians to flee to camps further north along the Turkish...

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