A pregnant woman and her daughter were killed Saturday by regime artillery fire on Syria's Idlib province, a monitor said, as Damascus prepares an assault on the country's last major rebel bastion.
President Bashar al-Assad's forces have been amassing along Idlib's borders for weeks and shelling rebel-held territory on a daily basis, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
On Saturday near the city of Jisr al-Shughur, "a pregnant woman and her daughter were killed by these regime strikes", the Observatory said, reporting similar artillery fire in other rebel-held areas.
Experts say Jisr al-Shughur could be a key target if the government and its Russian ally were to launch an offensive on the region.
Idlib is adjacent to Latakia province, the coastal heartland of Assad's Alawite minority and home to the Russian military airport of Hmeimim.
In recent days, Damascus and Moscow have stepped up warnings of an imminent assault on the province, which shares a border with Turkey and is dominated by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist alliance led by the former branch of Al-Qaeda in Syria.
Turkish troops are also stationed in Idlib and rebel backer Ankara fears an assault on the province may spark a new influx of refugees.
More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.