Regime air raids kill 11 civilians in northwest Syria: monitor

Maarat Al-Numan is located in the southern strip of Idlib. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2019

Regime air raids kill 11 civilians in northwest Syria: monitor

  • Three children are among the dead in the airstrikes
  • Syrian and Russian bombing of northwest Syria killed more than 600 civilians

MAAR SHUREEN, 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 center of the village, destroying vegetable stalls and shops.
Another man was killed in regime air strikes on the northern countryside of nearby Hama province, according to the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.
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 extremists 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 extremist 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.


Turkey sends armed drone to N.Cyprus amid gas dispute

Updated 13 min 45 sec ago

Turkey sends armed drone to N.Cyprus amid gas dispute

  • The breakaway northern Cyprus government approved the use of the airport for unmanned aerial vehicles
  • A recent agreement between Turkey and Libya claims extensive areas of sea for Turkey in the Mediterranean

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus: A Turkish military drone was delivered to northern Cyprus on Monday amid growing tensions over Turkey’s deal with Libya that extended its claims to the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean.
The Bayraktar TB2 drone landed in Gecitkale Airport in Famagusta around 0700 GMT, an AFP correspondent said, after the breakaway northern Cyprus government approved the use of the airport for unmanned aerial vehicles.
It followed a deal signed last month between Libya and Turkey that could prove crucial in the scramble for recently discovered gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
The agreement claimed extensive areas of the sea for Turkey, undercutting claims by Greece and the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, which runs the southern part of the island.
Analysts say Turkey was pushing back against rival efforts to claim exploration rights in the area after Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and Israel excluded Turkey from a new “East Mediterranean Gas Forum” that also includes Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Turkey, said approval for the drone was given last week “in light of the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean region” and “to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the TRNC and Turkey.”
The TRNC’s transport minister, Tolga Atakan, said Turkish drones were partly a response to the acquisition of Israeli drones by Cyprus in October to monitor its exclusive economic zone.
Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops occupied the northern third of the island in 1974 in response to a coup sponsored by the Greek military junta.
Turkey already has two drilling vessels in the eastern Mediterranean despite the threat of European Union sanctions.
Ankara does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, and says the TRNC has the right to explore around the entire island.