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Suspected Russian Airstrikes Kill 15 in Syrian Market

Destruction is seen around the Udai hospital following airstrikes on the town of Saraqeb in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, Jan. 29, 2018. Syrian troops had been advancing on Idlib as part of a fierce offensive launched in late December with Russian backing.

Suspected Russian airstrikes killed at least 15 people Tuesday in a crowded market in the rebel-held city of Ariha, south of Syria's rebel-held city of Idlib. It was the second such strike on a shopping area in area within 24 hours, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog group said.

The opposition-run civil defense service said another 20 people were wounded in the strike. Video released by local activists showed extensive damage.

A day earlier, dozens of people were killed in airstrikes by suspected Russian jets on a market in Saraqeb, 16 kilometers (10 miles) east of Idlib.

The strikes came as peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict began in Russia.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad government cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

While U.N. officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, Syrian government officials say the death toll is closer to 10,000.

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