May 31, 2016 / 10:16 AM / a year ago

Russia denies it conducted fatal air strikes on Syria's Idlib

Civilians and civil defence members look for survivors at a site damaged after Russian air strikes on the Syrian rebel-held city of Idlib, Syria, late May 30, 2016.Khalil Ashawi

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Tuesday denied its planes had conducted air strikes overnight against the Syrian rebel-held city of Idlib, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said had killed 23 people.

"Russian planes did not carry out any combat missions, to say nothing of any air strikes, in the province of Idlib," Igor Konashenkov, a Russian Defence Ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

The Observatory had earlier said the air strikes targeted a number of positions in the city, one of them next to a hospital. Seven children were among the dead, Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the strikes had killed more than 60 civilians and complained in a statement about what it said were the "indefensible" crimes of the Russian and Syrian governments.

Konashenkov called the Observatory's allegations "a horror story" of the kind he said it had disseminated in the past and said such pronouncements should be regarded with greater scepticism.

Idlib is a stronghold of rebel groups including the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov/Andrew Osborn; Editing by Christian Lowe

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