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Idlib: Syria regime, Russia launch new offensive on eastern countryside

Local | 2019-12-03 17:12:00
 Idlib: Syria regime, Russia launch new offensive on eastern countryside
 (Zaman Al Wasl)- Syrian regime forces backed by Russian warplanes have launched new attacks on the northern province of Idlib in an offensive recalls back what happened in the eastern enclave of Damascus in March 2018.

Tuesday’s attacks concentrated on the eastern countryside of Idlib with indiscriminate aerial and ground bombardment.

On Monday, the regime's air raids killed 13 civilians in a market in the town of Maaret al-Numan, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Meanwhile, regime forces and armed groups were locked in heavy clashes, with almost 100 fighters killed in two days, according to the war monitor.

The battles on the fringes of Idlib since Saturday are the most deadly since a Russia-brokered ceasefire went into effect in late August, it said.

Fifty-four regime fighters had been killed, while 47 of their foes including 33 jihadists had also lost their lives since Saturday, the Observatory said.

Rebels and jihadists have killed more than 130,000 pro-regime forces since the armed conflict erupted eight years ago with the brutal repression of protests against Bashar al-Assad, according to local monitoring groups.

President Bashar al-Assad has long maintained that his regime will eventually reimpose its control over the northwestern region on the border with Turkey.

During a meeting on Monday with Russia's special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, Assad agreed to "continue the fight against terrorism" so that Idlib would not become "a permanent haven for terrorists," the presidency said.

The late August ceasefire came months into a devastating Russia-backed regime offensive that killed around 1,000 civilians and ousted hundreds of thousands from their homes.

But sporadic clashes and deadly Russian and regime bombardment on the jihadist-held bastion have continued, with 179 civilians including 45 children killed during that time.

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 where battles with regime forces have also recently taken place.

The regime army has been pressing to take a strategic territory located between Idlib and Latakia province to cut the main supply route and to weaken the unprecedented resistance by rebels.

Al-Assad, who now controls around 60 percent of the country, has vowed to reclaim the rest, including Idlib and small pockets in Latakia. 

Eight years of war in Syria have killed 560,000 people and driven half the pre-war population of 22 million from their homes, including more than 6 million as refugees to neighbouring countries.

Zaman Al Wasl with Agencies

Zaman Al Wasl
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