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Syrian, Russian airstrikes kill 15 civilians in Idlib

7th Feb 2020
Syrian, Russian airstrikes kill 15 civilians in Idlib

By Esref Musa and Mehmet Burak Karacaoglu

 

IDLIB, Syria (AA): Russia and Syria carried out airstrikes in Idlib de-escalation zone, northwestern Syria, killing at least 15 civilians, a Syrian civil defense group announced Thursday.

The Syrian opposition aircraft observatory said areas near Idlib’s city center and villages were targeted with the airstrikes.

The controversial White Helmets civil defense group said 15 civilians were killed.

Turkey continues its recent reinforcement installation in Idlib de-escalation zone. A Turkish convoy including scores of tanks were deployed at different points in Idlib.

The Bashar al-Assad Government and its allies have continued intensified air and land attacks in the Idlib de-escalation zone.

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)

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terrorist operations across its border into northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor: Operations Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (October 2019).

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

But more than 1,800 civilians there have been killed in attacks by Syrian and Russian forces since then as the cease-fire continues to be violated.

Turkey announced on Jan. 10 a new cease-fire in Idlib would start just after midnight Jan. 12, but the Syria continued its attacks.

More than 1.5 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.

Turkey remains the country with most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million migrants since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011.

* Writing by Gozde Bayar

[Photo: Syrian displaced people from Idlib on their way to safer zones Turkish border on February 5, 2020. Photogrpaher: Muhammed Said/AA]

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