Syria: Russian air strikes kill 12 civilians in Idlib

4th Mar 2020
Syria: Russian air strikes kill 12 civilians in Idlib

By Mehmet Burak Karacaoglu, Esref Musa and Muhammed Temim Hocaoglu

 

IDLIB, Syria (AA): At least 12 civilians were killed when the Russian and Syrian air strikes bombed Idlib, a de-escalation zone in northern Syria, local sources said on Tuesday.

Russian and Syrian fighter jets hit Idlib city center, Binnish town and Sahil Roj region, the controversial White Helmets, a civil defense agency, said.

It also said four children were among nine fatalities in rocket attack hitting Idlib.

According to Syrian opposition groups’ aircraft monitors, the attacks killed a civilian in Binnish.

Idlib is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.

In recent months, nearly 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks by forces of the Assad regime and its allies.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression were expressly prohibited.

However, the Kremlin has said Turkey had failed to deliver on a promise to neutralise extremists in Idlib, something it called unacceptable, the Foreign Ministry reminded Ankara its forces were in Syria without the blessing of the Syrian government, and the Defence Ministry said Turkish troops were seriously aggravating the situation on the ground in Idlib.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement  that “The real reason for the crisis in the Idlib de-escalation zone unfortunately is the non-fulfilment by our Turkish colleagues of their undertakings to separate moderate opposition militants from terrorists.”

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance of terrorist groups, is the strongest militant groups in northern Syria and largely controls Idlib province, including the provincial capital and the border crossing with Turkey at Bab al-Hawa.

The UN, US and Turkey consider HTS group associated with al-Qa’ida as a terrorist organisation.

Other main rebel groups in Idlib are: National Liberation Front (Turkish-backed rebel alliance); Hurras al-Din (pro-al-Qa’ida HTS offshoot) and Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP, Chinese Uighur-dominated group)

But since then, more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in airstrikes and shelling by Syria and its allies.

On Sunday, Turkey announced a new offensive, Operation Spring Shield, in northwestern Syria to protect civilians from regime attacks.

It came after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens injured in a regime airstrike in Idlib on Feb. 27.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: Damaged cars and a hole are seen at the site after attacks by warplanes belonging to Syrian and Russia in Idlib, a de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria on March 03, 2020.  Photographer: İzzeddin İdilbi/AA]

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