Syria: White Helmets clear rubble after reported regime bombing

11 September, 2018, 13:28 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey held their third summit meeting on Syrian settlement in Tehran on Friday.

The intense air raids came a day after Iran and Russian Federation backed a military campaign in the rebel-held area despite Turkey's pleas for a ceasefire.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said heavy attacks resumed on the northwestern region near the Turkish border around midday Sunday.

The Journal reports almost two dozen civilians have died in the most recent attacks.

Idlib is mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - an alliance spearheaded by powerful jihadists once linked to Al-Qaeda.

The United Nations has warned that any offensive could force up to 800,000 people to flee their homes and urged key powerbrokers to avoid a "bloodbath".

Idlib is home to around 3 million people, around half refugees who fled other parts of Syria following previous regime assaults.

Syrian government and Russian warplanes on Saturday targeted the southern edge of Idlib province in what activists described as the most intense airstrikes in weeks, ratcheting up military pressure on the densely populated rebel-held bastion.

It has been the target in recent days of artillery bombing by the regime forces of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as Russian airstrikes.

Mr Erdogan called for a "truce" at a press conference after the talks.

Attacks were reported in Jarjanaz, Hass and Hish in the Ma'arrat al-Numan district of Idlib as well as Lataminah in Hama.

"It is a very major preoccupation for us", he said.


Yesterday, the leaders of Russia Syria and Turkey failed to come up with a plan to end the fighting immediately.

In the neighbouring province of Hama, Russian jets carried out more than ten strikes on rebel positions in the village of Al-Latamneh, he said.

The United States has about 2,000 troops in other areas of Syria but little leverage in Idlib, which had been declared a "de-escalation" zone under an agreement reached a year ago between Russia, Turkey and Iran. Turkey is a leading opposition supporter which has troops in the country and has erected 12 observation posts around rebel-held Idlib.

Trump "has been clear on the consequences for the use of chemical weapons", Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday.

"We urge Russian Federation to consider its options carefully".

The UN has warned that Idlib could turn into the worst humanitarian disaster of the 21st century as hundreds of thousands of civilians surge to the now closed Turkish border to evade an assault led by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Christy Delafield of Mercy Corps, one of the largest organizations delivering aid in Syria, said it has been hard for aid workers and communities to keep up with the displacement. The majority of the displaced have headed close to the border with Turkey. Clashes rarely erupt there over turf control and authority, and are usually a reflection of deepening political tension between the uneasy partners.

The Observatory said shooting broke out when Kurdish security forces at a checkpoint demanded that regime fighters step out of their patrol vehicle but they refused. The Asayish said seven of its members and 11 government personnel were killed. Many fear conscription or arrest.

The use of chemical weapons in Idlib could further complicate Syria's already complex, blood-soaked civil war.

There was no immediate comment on the clashes by the government.

The U.S. -backed Kurdish administration has recently begun talking with the Syrian government, seeking government recognition of its self-rule areas.

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