In Syria, dozens dead after resumption of the regime's assault on Idlib

In the Idlib province of Syria on January 15.
In the Idlib province of Syria on January 15. OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP

Nearly 20 civilians, including three children, 29 regime fighters and 26 jihadists and rebels have died in the past twenty-four hours in Idlib province, Syria, where the regime has resumed bombing in order to take over 'a strategic city, announced Thursday, January 16, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).

In Damascus, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported 6 civilians killed and 15 injured in the rocket fall on a neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo under the control of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

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The truce jeopardized

At the site of an air strike that struck a market in Idlib, Syria, on January 15.
At the site of an air strike that struck a market in Idlib, Syria, on January 15. ABDULAZIZ KETAZ / AFP

These attacks in the province of Idlib jeopardize a truce announced by Russia, Mr. Assad’s ally, and supposed to have started on Sunday after its confirmation by Turkey, which supports rebel groups in the province.

"Fighting broke out south of the city of Maarat Al-Nouman, at the same time as heavy bombing despite the truce", director of the OSDH, Rami Abdel Rahmane, who relies on a vast network of sources in the country at war since 2011, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The regime and its allies have taken over two villages in their advance towards Maarat Al-Nouman and are now 7 km from this key city, according to the non-governmental organization which reported air raids by the regime and the ally Russian. One of the two villages was later taken over by jihadists and rebels, according to the OSDH.

The province of Idlib and parts of the neighboring provinces of Aleppo and Latakia are still outside the control of the regime and are dominated by jihadists from Hayat Tahrir Al-Cham (Levant Liberation Organization). Rebel groups are also present.

Vast destruction

Syrian white helmets in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 15.
Syrian white helmets in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 15. AP

According to the International Rescue Committee, "Some 650,000 additional people, most of them women and children, could be forced to flee their homes if violence continues". According to the SANA agency, the regime’s operations against "Terrorists are a response to the shooting and recurrent targeting of civilians" by jihadist and rebel groups. The daily routine Al-Watan imputed "The collapse of the ceasefire" to the "Terrorist organizations" who have "Violated" the truce by attacking Syrian military sites.

Read also Syria: more than 235,000 displaced due to regime offensive in the Idlib region

AFP journalists in the city of Idlib, the province's eponymous capital, found widespread destruction. Amidst the rubble, Syrians are working to find possible victims. The bombings pulverized buildings, workshops and garages. Drivers, trapped in their vehicle, are among the victims.

According to the European Union, the operations "The regime and its Russian ally make no distinction between military targets and civilians". For its part, Moscow denied carrying out "Combat missions since the beginning of the cease-fire" at Idlib.

The regime carried out a major offensive in Idlib between April and August 2019: one thousand civilians were killed, according to the OSDH, more than 400,000 people displaced by the United Nations. The government, which now controls more than 70% of the territory, said it was determined to reconquer this region, which is home to around 3 million people.

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