Russian airstrikes kill 78 Turkish-backed military recruits in Syrian camp

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Oct. 26 (UPI) — Russian airstrikes killed at least 78 Turkish-backed recruits at a Syrian training camp and injured possibly 90 more, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday.

Russian missiles targeted a camp of al-Sham Corps in the rebel-held region of Jabal al-Dawila in Harem, northwest of Idlib, the agency said.

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Thousands of residents of the city of Idlib took to the streets to mourn the recruits, who were finishing military training this week.

The al-Sham Corps are a Sunni Islamist rebel military unit supported by Turkey.

“The death toll is expected to rise quickly due to the high number of injuries,” Mustafa al-Haj Youssef, director of White Helmets civil defense group in Idlib told Al Jazeera.

A fragile Russia-Turkey truce in January in Syria based in rebel-backed Idlib has been marred by attacks on civilians.

Russia, allied with the Syrian government, has been criticized for civilian attacks in and around Idlib in disputed zones in the northwest part of the country, including at least 46 air and ground attacks that were determined to have damaged “civilian objects and infrastructure,” and killed at least 224 people, injuring more than 500, according to Human Rights Watch.

More recently, Russia has criticized the Turkish government for sending 1,000 Syrian jihadist recruits, trained by a-Sham and working for a private Turkish security firm, to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region between Russian supported Armenia and Turkish-backed Azerbaijan.