Kafr Aweid (Syria) (AFP) - Syrian government aircraft bombed several towns in northwestern Syria on Thursday killing eight civilians as troops and militia battled jihadists on the ground, a monitor said.
The new bombardment of the largely jihadist-controlled region of Idlib followed strikes on Tuesday night and Wednesday that killed 23 civilians, 12 of them at a busy market.
In the Idlib town of Kafr Aweid, airstrikes on Thursday blew in the facades of buildings, littering their interiors with mounds of rubble, an AFP photographer reported.
Two young girls were killed in airstrikes on the town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
An AFP photographer saw a young boy running barefoot from the site of a blast covered in dust -- his eyes filled with tears, and spatters of blood visible on his feet.
In neighbouring Hama province, Syrian troops battled for a third straight day to repel a jihadist counterattack around the town of Kafr Nabuda, leaving 17 combatants dead, 11 of them jihadists, the Observatory said.
Syrian government forces retook the town on May 8 but the jihadists seized most of it back on Wednesday, the Britain-based war monitor said.
More than 100 combatants have been killed in the fighting around Kafr Nabuda since Tuesday.
The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate, controls much of Idlib as well as adjacent slivers of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
The jihadist-dominated region is nominally protected by a buffer zone deal, but the government and its ally Russia have escalated their bombardment in recent weeks, seizing several towns on its southern flank.
The United Nations has warned that an all-out offensive on the Idlib region would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe for its nearly thee million residents.
More than 200,000 people have already been displaced by an upsurge of violence since April 28, the UN has said.
A total of 20 health facilities have been hit by the escalation -- 19 of which remain out of service, according to the UN.