MAARET AL-NUMAN, Syria -- Civil defence workers known as the White Helmets are digging graves in advance in the Idlib region, to ensure funerals are swift and the few who attend are not killed at the cemetery.
The region of some three million people has suffered increased regime and Russian air strikes in recent weeks, with hundreds of civilians killed since late April. The mounting civilian casualties comes as Moscow perpetuates its massacre under claims it is only targeting "terrorists."
"We're digging graves, preparing them, we don't even know for who," said the gravedigger in the town of Maaret al-Numan, which has been repeatedly hit by bombardment in recent weeks.
The Idlib region, dominated by an alliance led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, is supposed to be protected by a months-old buffer zone deal.
But a spike in air raids, shelling, and rocket fire by the regime and Russia has since late April hit the region.
The violence has killed more than 360 civilians, including 80 children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says, and caused hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.