Amnesty condemns Syria regime strikes on Idlib school, hospitals

Children watch a puppet show performed by a Syrian actor, through a makeshift puppet theatre set up among the rubble of collapsed buildings in the town of Saraqib in the rebel-held northern Idlib province. (AFP)
Updated 28 March 2019
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Amnesty condemns Syria regime strikes on Idlib school, hospitals

BEIRUT: Amnesty International accused Syria’s government and its Russian allies Thursday of striking medical facilities and a school in rebel-held Idlib province with air and artillery strikes over the past month.
After eight years of war, “the Syrian government continues to show utter disregard for the laws of war and the lives of civilians,” it said in a statement.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, regime strikes since February on the northwestern province controlled by the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham have left at least 170 civilians dead and displaced thousands of others.
Amnesty said “a hospital, blood bank and other medical facilities as well as a bakery and a school” had been hit in Idlib.
“The Syrian government, with the support of Russia, is clearly resorting to the same unlawful military tactics which led to massive displacement, in some cases forced displacement,” it said.
Amnesty said its report was based on witness testimonies backed up by “analysis of videos, open source information and satellite imagery.”
On March 15, the United States accused Russia and the Syrian government of being responsible for “escalating violence” in Idlib.
“Despite Russia’s claims to be targeting terrorists, these operations have caused dozens of civilian casualties and have targeted first responders as they attempt to save lives on the ground,” a State Department spokesman said.
A Turkish-Russian truce deal was struck in September to stave off a planned regime assault that aid groups feared could spark the Syrian conflict’s worst humanitarian crisis to date.
The offensive has been held off but the deal’s provisions have not been implemented.


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.