Russian airstrikes in Syria have killed at least 45 people in northwestern province of Latakia, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday. The airstrikes were also responsible for injuring dozens of people, according to the group.
The airstrikes, which began Monday afternoon in the rebel-held Jabal al-Akrad region in the coastal province, continued for several hours. Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the monitoring group, reportedly said the airstrikes also killed civilians, but the observatory did not have a specific number. However, he said a rebel commander and the families of rebel fighters were among the dead, Agence France-Presse reported. Rahman added that the number of injured people was likely to rise.
The Local Coordination Committees, another monitoring group, said 57 people died Monday, mostly in Russian airstrikes, the Associated Press reported.
Latakia, a Syrian regime stronghold, is home to the ancestral village of President Bashar Assad. Russian airstrikes have targeted the province since Moscow began an air campaign in the war-torn country on Sept. 30.
Medical organizations have also accused the Russian military of targeting hospitals in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo, forcing the medical staff to flee. A hospital in al-Hader village sustained a direct hit and was no more operational. Another hospital in el-Eis area was nearly hit, but medical staff decided to evacuate and close the hospital fearing it would be targeted further by regime or Russian forces.
Meanwhile, U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford dismissed chances of any Russian air campaign in Iraq in the near future, Reuters reported Tuesday. Dunford was on his first visit to Iraq after becoming the top U.S. military officer this month.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Oct. 1 -- the day Dunford took over as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- that he would be open to Russian airstrikes in the country to fight the Islamic State group. However, Dunford said U.S. officials had been reassured that Abadi did not make any such request to Russia.
"Subsequent to that, U.S. officials engaged Abadi and he did not request Russian airstrikes," Dunford said, according to Reuters.