by GIORDANA SCALIA
45 people have been killed in Russian air strikes in a rebel-held area of north-western Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Russian warplanes bombed the rugged Jabal Akrad region of Latakia province on October fifth on a Monday afternoon. The commander of a Western-backed Free Syrian Army brigade and the families of rebels were among the dead. Russia said it targeted Islamic State militants in Latakia on Monday. However, activists say the jihadist group has little or no presence in the coastal province, which is a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect. The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition activist network, reported that 57 people were killed in Latakia province on Monday, most of them by Russian air strikes. The attacks were focused on the village of Bisharfeh, and the casualties included many children and women. Iran, Russia and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement are propping up the Alawite-led Assad government, while Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar back the more moderate Sunni-dominated opposition, along with the US, UK and France. Hezbollah and Iran have pro-Assad forces on the ground, while a Western-led and Russia are going on air strikes.