UN: Northwest Syria hostilities escalate, with barrel bombs

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. is calling on Syria's warring parties to ensure the safety of civilians as clashes, shelling and airstrikes escalate in Idlib, western Aleppo and northern Hama, including the use of barrel bombs.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that "satellite imagery shows entire towns and villages have been razed to the ground, while dozens of communities have been emptied."

On Monday, he said 15 civilians, including women and children, were reportedly killed in airstrikes on seven communities in Idlib province.

Dujarric said three-quarters of the 3 million people being impacted by the violence are women and children.

Since the start of hostilities at the end of April, over 550 civilians have been killed and over 400,000 people have been displaced from northern Hama and southern Idlib, he said.