This photo shows debris scattered in a street following reported shelling on the town of Khan Sheikhun, Syria. Omar Haj Kadour/AFP
UN-linked aid groups have suspended activities in parts of violence-plagued northwest Syria, where stepped up bombardment by the regime and Russia is jeopardising the safety of humanitarian workers.
"As of 8 May, at least 16 humanitarian partners have suspended their operations in areas impacted by conflict," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA said on Friday.
The World Food Programme said it has suspended "deliveries to about 47,000 people in towns and villages... (that) have come under bombardment".
Since late April, government forces have mounted a major bombardment of southern Idlib and neighbouring areas with Russian support.
The uptick in air strikes and shelling on the region dominated by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate has displaced 180,000 people between 29 April and 9 May, OCHA said.
It has also affected 15 health facilities and 16 schools, it added.
"Some organisations suspended activities as their premises were damaged, destroyed or rendered unsafe by the violence," OCHA said.
"Others have suspended activities in order to keep their staff and beneficiaries safe, or because the beneficiary population has left," it added.
OCHA said five humanitarian workers, including two health professionals, have been reportedly killed due to air strikes and shelling.
WFP also said that some of its partners inside Idlib have been "displaced due to the violence, while a few others have sustained injuries".
The northwestern part of Syria controlled by militants is made up of a large part of Idlib province, as well as adjacent parts of the Aleppo and Hama provinces.
It has been protected from a massive regime offensive by a September deal inked by Damascus ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
The region of some three million people has come under increasing bombardment since Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is dominated by militants from Al-Qaeda's former Syrian branch, took full control of it in the beginning of the year.
Western powers are concerned that the Russia-backed Syrian government will launch a full-scale assault.
On Friday, air strikes and shelling killed 10 civilians, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The civil war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
The United States said on Thursday it would provide more than $720 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis in Syria, plus nearly $152 million for Africa's Sahel region and almost $108 million for South Sudan.
In another contribution to the Community Solidarity Fund Against COVID-19, a group of accredited charitable organisations in Dubai distributed over 31,570 daily meals to underprivileged people in Naif, Satwa, Hatta, Jebel Ali and Al Warsan areas.
The patrol on the M4 highway in Idlib province was the result of a March 5 ceasefire accord between Moscow and Ankara, which back opposing sides in Syria's nine-year war. The ceasefire has largely held since then.
The latest casualties in the town of Saraqeb came as government forces captured two new villages on the southern edge of Idlib. The province has been the center point of a government push under the cover of airstrikes, according to opposition activists and pro-government media.
The step is aimed at reducing crowding and random parking of vehicles on the roads where traffic accidents occur and prevent traffic jams in accident sites, they said.
The 63-year-old, who considers himself "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order", will formally launch his campaign with a video, speech and townhall event in the early voting state of Iowa on Wednesday.
"This year also marks the 55th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE).