SYRIA, March 2: The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):
Syrian activists and a war monitor say at least seven people have been killed in a suicide bombing inside a restaurant in the northwestern city of Idlib.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a city restaurant after opening fire on those inside, killing eight people, including six jihadists. The Idlib Media Center said the explosion killed seven people.
Thursday’s explosion is the latest in a string of bombings in Idlib where lawlessness is rampant. Idlib is the last major rebel stronghold in Syria, controlled by the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or Levant Liberation Committee.
The city has been hit with blasts over the past months that have killed and wounded scores of people.
A spokesman for U.S.-backed forces in Syria says the group is resuming military operations against Islamic State militants holed up in their last pocket of territory in eastern Syria.
Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, says the operations to liberate the village of Baghouz resumed Friday evening after all civilians were evacuated and hostages that were kidnapped by IS were freed.
“Only terrorists are left in Baghouz,” Bali said in a tweet.
Officials estimate there are hundreds of IS militants in the small patch of territory in Baghouz that sits atop caves and tunnels. The military operation was halted last month to allow for the evacuation of civilians. In the last week alone, 13,000 people left the territory, according to the United Nations.
More civilians evacuated from the last territory held by the Islamic State group in eastern Syria Friday, amid a warning by the United Nations about the plight of thousands who have fled the area in recent weeks.
In a statement, the U.N. cited reports that more than 84 people, two thirds of them young children under five years of age, have died since December on their way to al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria after fleeing the extremist group in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province.
In the last week alone, it said, some 13,000 people have arrived at al-Hol camp.
“Many of the arrivals are exhausted, hungry and sick,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at a news briefing in Geneva.