Syria war: Scores killed in air strikes ahead of truce

Air strikes killed more than 80 people in rebel-held areas of Idlib and Aleppo on Saturday, just hours after Russia and the US announced a deal intended to put a stop to more than five years of fighting.

Fighter jets believed to be Russian hit a crowded market in Idlib province on Saturday afternoon, killing at least 36 people, according to an Al Jazeera reporter at the scene.

“A Russian warplane targeted a residential area and a market in Idlib,” Al Jazeera’s Adham Abu al-Husam said, as civil defence forces, firemen and paramedics worked to pull survivors from the rubble.

“The marketplace was full of civilians shopping for the upcoming Eid holiday.”

Separate air strikes on rebel-held neighbourhoods of Aleppo city and the surrounding countryside killed at least 46 people, according to local rescue workers, and 10 people were killed by rebel shelling on the government-controlled neighbourhood of Salahuddin.

Another five civilians were killed in air strikes on the rebel stronghold of Douma in the northeastern Damascus countryside, al-Husam said.

The Syrian opposition on Saturday cautiously welcomed the ceasefire deal agreed by Moscow and Washington that could also see the first joint military campaign by the two powers against hardline groups in the war-torn country.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the truce, reached in Geneva late Friday, would come into force on Monday, the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The two powers back opposing sides in the conflict, with Moscow supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and Washington backing a coalition of rebels it regards as moderate.

The Assad government in Damascus announced late on Saturday that it had agreed to the ceasefire terms, Syrian state media reported.

If Russia is able to persuade Assad to respect the ceasefire for a week, Moscow and Washington will set up a joint coordination unit to bomb agreed “terrorist” targets.