Drone strikes by rebels who control swathes of northwestern Syria killed four civilians in government-held territory on Thursday, a war monitor said.

Tensions have soared in the northwest since a drone attack on a military academy graduation ceremony in Homs earlier this month killed dozens of people, with the government blaming “terrorists”. 

“Four civilians have been killed and four others wounded in drone strikes in the Hama countryside launched by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS),” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.

HTS, which is led by Syria´s former al-Qaeda affiliate, launched three drone attacks on government-held areas in less than three hours, according to the Britain-based Observatory. Syrian state news agency SANA reported three dead and three wounded in “terrorist” drone strikes in the Hama countryside.

“The terrorist groups also fired three rocket shells at residential neighbourhoods” in the same province, SANA said. The defence ministry said troops managed to “shoot down eight drones loaded with explosive shells in the Hama and Aleppo countrysides, blaming “terrorists” for the attack. On Tuesday, six people, including two children, were killed in Russian strikes on a displaced persons´ camp in the rebel-held northwest, the Observatory said.

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