Rebel attack in northwest Syria triggers government response

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Activists say Syrian government forces have bombed villages and towns in the northwest after a surprise attack by insurgents.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Tuesday’s bombardment targeted half a dozen rebel-held villages in the northwestern Idlib province, killing at least five civilians. The activist-operated Idlib Media Center put the death toll at four.

The government assault came hours after rebels in Idlib seized the village of Ateera near the border with Turkey in a surprise attack. It was a rare advance for the armed opposition, which has suffered a series of major defeats across the country in recent months.

The government is waging a wide-scale offensive in southern Syria, where it recently retook a major crossing on the border with Jordan.