Russian-Linked Air Strikes Kill 19 In Northwestern Syria

A Syrian man comforts another on the rubble of a building after a reported Russian airstrike on a popular market in the village of Balyun in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, on December 7, 2019.

 

Syrian regime and Russian air strikes on Saturday killed 19 civilians, eight of them children, in the country’s last major opposition bastion, a war monitor said.

The air raids in the jihadist-run northwestern region of Idlib also wounded several others, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Air strikes by regime ally Russia killed four civilians including a child in the village of Al-Bara in the south of the region, the Observatory said.

An AFP correspondent at the scene saw rescue workers pick through the rubble of a two-storey home whose concrete roof had collapsed.

Rescuers carried away the body of a victim wrapped in a blanket on a stretcher.

Russian raids also killed nine civilians including three children in the nearby village of Balyun, the Observatory said.

Crude barrel bombs dropped by government helicopters killed five civilians including three children in the village of Abadeeta, also in the same area.

In the southeast of the embattled region, a raid by a regime aircraft killed another child in the village of Bajghas, the Observatory said.

The Britain-based monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, says it determines the provenance of an air strike by looking at flight patterns and the aircraft and munitions involved.

The Idlib region, which is home to some three million people including many displaced by Syria’s civil war, is controlled by the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Damascus regime has repeatedly vowed to take back control of Idlib.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces launched a blistering military campaign against the region in April, killing around 1,000 civilians and displacing more than 400,000 people from their homes.

A ceasefire announced by Moscow has largely held since late August.

But the Observatory says deadly bombardment and skirmishes have persisted, with more than 200 civilians killed in the region since the deal.

Syria’s war has killed over 370,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since beginning in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.

 

AFP

Nearly 70 Dead In Syria Regime Clashes With Idlib Militants

 

Two days of clashes between regime forces and armed groups in Syria’s last major opposition bastion have killed nearly 70 on both sides, undermining a months-long ceasefire agreement, a war monitor said Sunday.

The battles in the northwestern province of Idlib are “the most violent” there since a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement went into effect in late August, said Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Residents of affected villages fled north to escape the fighting, adding to the hundreds of thousands who have already flooded out of the province’s violence-plagued south since fighting escalated earlier this year.

“I don’t want to see my children trapped under rubble,” said one of those driven from his home, Hafez, who escaped the flashpoint area along with his wife and three kids two days earlier.

On Sunday morning, clouds of smoke rose over the Maaret al-Numan region as warplanes pounded jihadists and allied rebels in positions they had recently recaptured from regime forces, said an AFP correspondent.

The Britain-based Observatory on Sunday put the death toll from fighting at 69 combatants since battles started the previous day.

At least 36 regime forces were among those killed.

‘Cease-fire’

The Observatory said an attack led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate on several regime positions had initially sparked the fighting.

Overnight, the Syrian army backed by Russian warplanes launched a counter-push to reclaim territory it had lost in the battles, the war monitor said.

Regime forces have since regained lost ground but violent clashes are ongoing, the Observatory and an AFP correspondent said.

Air strikes on Sunday afternoon hit jihadist-run areas dozens of kilometres (miles) away from the main frontline, signalling a potential escalation, the correspondent said.

The Idlib region, home to around three million people including many displaced by Syria’s eight-year civil war, is controlled by the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadist alliance also controls parts of neighbouring Aleppo and Latakia provinces, with battles also currently taking place in the latter, according to the monitor.

The region is one of the last holdouts of opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who controls more than 70 per cent of the country, according to the Observatory.

Assad has repeatedly vowed to reclaim all of Syria, including Idlib, which he views as a “terrorist” holdout.

In August, government troops began a ground offensive that saw them retake several areas in southern Idlib, allowing them their first foothold in the region in years.

Assad, during a visit to the area in October, his first since the start of the eight-year war, said that defeating jihadists in the province was key to ending the conflict.

The other flashpoint

Between late April and the end of August, Idlib was pounded ceaselessly by Syrian soldiers backed by Russian air power.

The Observatory estimates that nearly 1,000 civilians were killed in that period, and the UN says that more than 400,000 people were displaced.

A ceasefire announced by Russia in late August has reduced fighting, but air strikes and clashes increased in November.

According to the Observatory, more than 160 civilians and more than 460 fighters, including regime forces, have been killed since the deal went into effect.

The Idlib front was the main focus of Syrian regime forces before Turkey in October launched an invasion of swaths of northeast Syria.

The operation against Kurdish forces who had controlled the region since 2012 paved the way for mass regime deployments in the area for the first time in seven years.

Syrian troops arrived in positions bordering Turkey as well as other parts of the northeast under a deal with Kurdish forces seeking protection from Ankara and its Syrian proxies.

An agreement between Russia and Ankara in October further cemented the deployment, tasking regime forces with ensuring the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the border region.

Turkey last month accused Russia and Damascus of failing to secure that objective, threatening further action against Kurdish groups.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it erupted in 2011.

Russian Strikes Kill Nine Civilians In Syria

An aerial view shows residents gathered around a building destroyed by a reported Russian airstrike on the village al-Barra in the southern countryside of Syria’s northern Idlib province on November 15, 2019.

 

Airstrikes by Syrian regime ally Russia on Sunday killed nine civilians in the jihadist-run enclave of Idlib in the northwest of the country, a war monitor said.

Five of the victims died in the village of Al-Malaja in southern Idlib province while the other four were killed in raids on the town of Saraqeb in the east, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A number of people were wounded, some seriously, the monitor’s head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, though he was unable to say how many.

The Idlib region, home to around three million people including many displaced by Syria’s eight-year civil war, is controlled by the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadist alliance also controls parts of neighbouring Aleppo and Latakia provinces.

The region is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A ceasefire announced by Russia has largely held since late August.

But the Observatory says 48 civilians — including 16 children — have been killed in Russian air strikes on the region since the start of November.

The Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria, says it determines who carries out an air strike according to flight patterns, as well as aircraft and the munitions involved.

Last month Assad said Idlib was standing in the way of an end to the civil war that has ravaged his country.

Syria’s conflict has killed 370,000 people and displaced millions since beginning in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-Assad protests.

‘Dozens Killed’ As Syria Regime Forces Battle Jihadists

 

 

Pro-regime forces were locked in heavy fighting with insurgents Sunday near a jihadist-run town in northwestern Syria, leaving dozens of combatants dead, a war monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said: “fierce clashes” between loyalist forces, jihadists, and allied rebels were taking place one kilometre (0.6 miles) west of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province.

The latest fighting broke out overnight Saturday to Sunday and has already killed at least 45 jihadists and allied rebels as well as 17 members of the pro-regime forces, the Britain-based monitor said.

The town of Khan Sheikhun lies on a key highway coveted by the regime.

The road runs through Idlib, connecting government-held Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, which was retaken by loyalists from rebels in December 2016.

READ ALSO: IS Car Bomb Kills Kurdish Police Officer In Northeast Syria

Pro-regime forces are deployed around three kilometres from the road and have been advancing over the past few days in a bid to encircle Khan Sheikhun from the north and the west and seize the highway.

On Sunday they retook the village of Tel al-Nar and nearby farmland northwest of Khan Sheikhun “and were moving close to the highway,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

But their advance from the east was being slowed down due to “a ferocious resistance” from jihadists and allied rebels.

Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) controls most of Idlib province as well as parts of the neighbouring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.

A buffer zone deal brokered by Russia and Turkey last year was supposed to protect the Idlib region’s three million inhabitants from an all-out regime offensive, but it was never fully implemented.

Regime and Russian airstrikes and shelling since late April have killed more than 860 civilians, according to the Observatory, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information.

On Sunday airstrikes by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia killed two people, including a child, in the south of Idlib, the Observatory said.

More than 1,400 insurgents and over 1,200 pro-regime forces have been killed since April, according to the monitor.

The violence has displaced more than 400,000 people, the United Nations says.

Khan Sheikhun was hit by a chemical attack that killed more than 80 people in April 2017, attributed to the Syrian regime by the UN and international experts.

In response, US President Donald Trump ordered strikes on the regime’s key Shayrat airbase.

Now almost emptied of inhabitants, Khan Sheikhun sheltered almost 100,000 people before the start of the current military escalation, the majority displaced from Hama province.

“Many of these people have been displaced up to five times,” the UN’s regional spokesman for the Syria crisis, David Swanson, told AFP on Saturday.

Syria’s conflict has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions at home and abroad since starting with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests in 2011.

Regime Air Raids Kill 11 Civilians In Northwest Syria

 

 

Regime air strikes on Tuesday killed 11 civilians in opposition-held northwest Syria, the target of months of bombardment by the government and its ally Russia, a war monitor said.

Three children were among 10 civilians killed in the village of Maar Shureen in the south of Idlib province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

An AFP photographer said the strike hit near a mosque in the centre of the village, destroying vegetable stalls and shops.

Another man was killed in regime airstrikes on the northern countryside of nearby Hama province, according to the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.

READ ALSO: At Least Five Dead In Baghdad Suicide Blasts

Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have ramped up strikes on Idlib since late April, killing more than 600 civilians, while 52 others have died from rebel fire, according to the monitor.

Government forces have also been locked in battle with jihadists and allied rebels on the edges of the bastion, which is held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, including the north of Hama province.

The group in January took full administrative control of the Idlib region, home to three million people, although other jihadist groups and rebel factions are also present.

Idlib and its surrounding areas are supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a September 2018 deal between Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

A buffer zone planned under that accord was never fully implemented, and the region has seen an uptick in violence.

Syria’s war has killed a total of more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

AFP

Regime Air Strikes Kill 10 Civilians In Northwest Syria

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence (White Helmets) search for bodies or survivors in a collapsed building following a reported regime air strike on the town of Ariha, in the south of Syria’s Idlib province, on July 12, 2019. Abdulaziz KETAZ / AFP

 

At least 10 civilians were killed Friday in Syrian regime air strikes in the country’s northwest, including three children, a war monitor said.

Another 45 civilians were wounded in the strikes across the jihadist-held Idlib region, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Those killed included three people in Idlib city, which until Friday had been spared strikes by the regime and its Russian ally since they stepped up bombardment of the region more than two months ago.

“It’s the first time that the raids hit the centre of Idlib, after being confined until now to its suburbs,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Last month a civilian was killed in an air strike on the outskirts of the regional capital, considered the stronghold of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

The group in January took full administrative control of the Idlib region, home to three million people, although other jihadist groups and rebel factions are also present.

Russian and regime aircraft have ramped up strikes on Idlib since the end of April, killing more than 580 civilians.

Rebel and jihadist fire has killed 45 civilians over the same period, according to Observatory figures.

Friday’s air strikes hit residential buildings in one of the city’s largest squares, Sabaa Bahrat, an AFP photographer said.

Ambulances were dispatched to the scene to tend to the victims, he added.

Meanwhile in neighbouring Hama province, six children were wounded by opposition fire in the regime-held area of Karnaz.

Fierce clashes have raged in the northern sliver of Hama province in recent days, with at least 22 fighters killed Friday, according to the Observatory.

At least 10 regime fighters and a dozen jihadists and allied rebels were killed in the battle near the village of Hamameyat and its strategic hilltop.

Regime forces retook the area in the north of Hama province overnight into Friday after relentless fighting, according to the Britain-based war monitor.

The latest figures bring to more than 120 the number of fighters killed since Wednesday evening, when Hamameyat was seized by rebels and jihadists.

The recent uptick in violence has forced 330,000 people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

AFP

Syria Chemical Attack: Trump Condemns “Affront To Humanity”

President Trump Proposes Massive Aid CutsUnited States President, Donald Trump, said the killing of dozens of civilians in northern Syria in an apparent chemical weapons attack is an “Affront to humanity”.

According to UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian observatory for human rights, out of 86 people killed in the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province, 30 of them are children.

The US President, however, did not mention Russia, Syria’s ally, which says chemical weapons in rebel hands may have been released.

But America’s envoy to the United Nations (UN) accused Russia of covering up for Damascus.

Air Strikes In Syria After U.S.-Russia Peace Deal Raise Rebels Doubts

syrianAir strikes in Syria hours after the United States and Russia reached a breakthrough deal to try to restore peace in the nation ravaged by war are adding to rebels’ doubts that a ceasefire could hold.

The agreement, by the powers that back opposing sides in the five-year-old war, promises a nationwide truce from sundown on Monday, improved access for humanitarian aid and joint military targeting of hard-line Islamist groups.

But hours after it was agreed, warplanes bombed a marketplace in rebel-held Idlib in north-western Syria, killing at least 40 civilians, according to rescue workers and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Locals said they believed the jets to be Russian.

Idlib province has endured escalating strikes by Russian planes in recent months, according to international aid workers and residents, destroying scores of hospitals, bakeries and other infrastructure across rebel-held territory.

Reuters reports that Aleppo was also hit from the air and fighting continued on the ground on Saturday. The army attacked rebel-held areas, both sides said, pushing to maximise gains before the ceasefire deadline.

Ten people were killed by barrel bombs dropped by army helicopters on the besieged rebel-held east of the city, and jets, either Syrian or Russian, bombed rebel-held towns along important insurgent supply routes.

Insurgents said they were planning a counter-offensive.

“The fighting is flaring on all the fronts of southern Aleppo,” rebel spokesman Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak said.

Razak, of the Nour al-Din al Zinki Brigades, part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) which is backed by the West, said they were studying the peace deal but feared it merely gave the Syrian army a chance to gather forces and pour more Iranian-backed militias into Aleppo.

President Bashar al Assad’s government made no comment on the peace deal, but Syrian state media quoted what it called private sources as saying the government had given its approval.

Syria’s mainstream political opposition, the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said it had not received a copy of the deal and would only react after consulting members.

A spokeswoman had earlier welcomed any deal that spared civilian lives but cast doubt on whether Moscow would be able to pressure Damascus to stop indiscriminate bombing.

Fighting in Syria’s Hama Province Displaces 100,000- U.N.

syriaFighting in Syria’s western Hama province displaced an estimated 100,000 people between Aug. 28 and Sept. 5, the United Nations said on Wednesday, citing the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the governor of the province.

Syrian rebels launched an offensive last week in northern Hama, an area of strategic importance to President Bashar al-Assad that is home to loyalist towns populated by minority Christians and Alawites. Rebels rapidly captured the town of Halfaya. Pro-Assad forces have hit back with heavy air strikes.

Many people had fled from the fighting towards Hama city and neighbouring villages, as well as north into Idlib province, the U.N. said.

There were originally about 4,500 families in the town of Halfaya, of which 2,800 remain trapped by the fighting while the rest managed to flee, the U.N. report said.

Another 4,500 families were displaced from Taybat al Imam, out of 9,500 in that town, and 5,000 families were uprooted from the army stronghold of Soran, about half the population there.

Many of the displaced people were sleeping outdoors, but four mosques in Hama city and 12 schools in rural areas were temporarily housing people, the U.N. said.

The Red Crescent had provided aid to about 7,000 families in Hama, roughly 35,000 people, and the United Nations sent a convoy of 12 trucks to Hama on Sept. 4 with aid for another 15,000 people. Another 6,500 families still urgently need food and other aid, the U.N. said.

Syrian Government Strikes On Two Rebel-Held Areas Kill 23-Monitor

damscusSyrian warplanes bombed the rebel-held town of Douma near Damascus and parts of Aleppo in the north on Saturday, killing 23 people, with the death toll likely to rise, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Mediators have struggled to get combatants in Syria’s five-year-old war to honour a Feb. 27 cessation of hostilities deal to enable peace talks in Geneva to proceed. Each side accuses the other of violating the truce.

Fighting has escalated around Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Damascus and other areas over the past week and the main opposition group walked out of Geneva peace talks this week in protest at government attacks.

The Geneva talks aim to end a war that has killed more than 250,000 people, created the world’s worst refugee crisis, allowed for the rise of the Islamic State group and drawn in regional and major powers. Russia’s intervention in the conflict beginning late last year has swayed the war in President Bashar al-Assad’s favour.

The Britain-based Observatory, which monitors the Syrian war through a network of contacts, said the death toll in Douma, northeast of the capital, was expected to rise from 13 because more than 22 others were injured, some critically.

In a government-controlled camp near Douma, shelling killed a woman and child, and injured others, the Observatory said.

There was also fighting near Bala in the southeast of Damascus between rebel groups and government forces with deaths occurring on both sides.

In Aleppo, at least ten people were killed, including a child, by bombs dropped from planes in an insurgent-controlled eastern neighbourhood of what was Syria’s commercial hub before the civil war began in 2011.

This is the second day of heavy bombardment on Aleppo. Nineteen people were killed on Friday in similar air attacks.

In a government-held area of northwest Aleppo, Syrian state television said six people were injured in rebel shelling.

On Friday a Syrian warplane crashed southeast of Damascus. The Syrian military said it crashed because of a technical fault, but Islamic State said it shot the plane down and had taken its pilot captive.

In a statement on Saturday the hardline militant group said this was the third Syrian warplane it had shot down in two weeks, in addition to a Russian drone.

On Friday, the U.N. special envoy for Syria vowed to take the talks into next week despite the opposition suspending their involvement.

400 Madaya Residents Need Medical Treatment – UN official

MadayaUnited Nations Humanitarian Chief has called for the evacuation of some 400 people in the besieged town of Madaya for medical treatment.

Stephen O’Brien said this after the UN Security Council discussed the crisis in the town near Damascus.

“We found some 400 people who must be evacuated Immediately for medical treatment or face dying,” he said.

An aid convoy had earlier brought food to 40,000 residents of Madaya town in Syria, who have been under government siege for six months.

The UN said it had received credible reports of people dying of starvation in Madaya.

According to reports, people were believed to be eating pets and grass to survive in Madaya, near Lebanon’s border.

Simultaneously, aid lorries also entered two towns besieged by rebel forces in the northern province of Idlib under a deal between the warring parties.

The situation in Foah and Kefraya was also said to be extremely dire with an estimated number of 20,000 people trapped there since March.

According to SANA, Syria’s state news agency, 65 trucks loaded with aid supplies entered Madaya and the other besieged towns, Foua and Kefraya.

It was reported that the sight of food trucks brought starving residents to tears.

Russian Air Strike In Syria Kills Dozens

Russian-Air-StrikesA series of air strikes believed to have been carried out by Russian planes have killed at least 43 people in the Syrian city of Idlib.

According to activists and residents, a marketplace, homes and official buildings were all hit.

A civil defence worker said bodies were still being pulled from the rubble.

Russian authorities have not confirmed whether it carried out strikes in the area.

The local co-ordination committees, a network of anti-regime activists, said that more than 170 people were injured in the strikes.

Reports say a coalition of Islamist anti-government rebels had captured the city of Idlib earlier in 2015.

Meanwhile, latest research indicates that at least 15 rebel forces in Syria are ready to succeed Islamic State if it is defeated by the US-led coalition.