Beirut: Syrian and Russian warplanes have launched a wave of air strikes in northern Syria, killing dozens in areas held by a rebel alliance battling to take control of second city Aleppo.
The air strikes, which began Saturday and continued Sunday, killed 45 civilians in and around Aleppo and 22 in neighbouring Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The raids came as the Islamist Faylaq al-Sham Islamist faction, part of the rebel alliance, said it had begun a new offensive "to liberate" the regime-held area of Zahra on Aleppo´s western outskirts.
The Britain-based Observatory and opposition fighters said a car bomb exploded in Zahra Sunday, but did not mention casualties.
Late Sunday, at least 10 rebels were killed and 30 wounded in a suicide bombing near their bus in Idlib near the Atme border crossing with Turkey, the monitor said.
It said Sunday´s air strikes targeted areas held by the Army of Conquest, an alliance of rebel, Islamist and jihadist forces that has mounted a major Aleppo offensive.
"The intensification of the strikes in Idlib is due to the fact that this province is the main source of fighters for the Army of Conquest," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
An AFP correspondent in rebel-held eastern Aleppo said the strikes were especially intense around the southern district of Ramussa, seized by rebels earlier this month in a major setback for forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
Nine other civilians were killed in rebel shelling of regime-held western Aleppo Saturday, the Observatory said.
Aleppo, Syria´s former economic hub and a focal point of its five-year civil war, has been divided between a rebel-held east and regime-controlled west since mid-2012.