Regime airstrikes kill nine in northwest Syria, says monitor

Regime airstrikes kill nine in northwest Syria, says monitor
Syrian rescuers known as the White Helmets walk amidst the rubble scattered across a street following a reported regime air strike in the town of Ariha in the Idlib province on January 5, 2020, killing at least 9 civilians. (AFP)
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Updated 06 January 2020
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Regime airstrikes kill nine in northwest Syria, says monitor

Regime airstrikes kill nine in northwest Syria, says monitor
  • Idlib has come under mounting bombardment in recent weeks
  • Tens of thousands have fled their homes in the region of some three million people

BEIRUT: Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine civilians in the embattled opposition stronghold of Idlib on Sunday, a war monitor said.

Opposition-run Idlib has come under mounting bombardment in recent weeks, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes in the region of some 3 million people.

The regime air raids in the town of Ariha also wounded more than 19 people, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources inside the war-torn country.

The Damascus regime has repeatedly vowed to take back control of Idlib, which is run by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a group dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Cease-fire

A cease-fire announced in late August was supposed to stem Russia-backed regime bombardment of the region after it killed around 1,000 civilians in four months.

But the Observatory says sporadic bombardment and clashes continued, before intensifying in the past month.

An AFP correspondent saw a large patch of blood on the road at the site, near a gutted building and the torched remains of two cars.

The remains of the victims lay by the side of the road in plastic body bags. The Damascus government has repeatedly vowed to retake Idlib, which is run by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a group dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate. 

On Jan. 1, missiles fired by regime forces killed nine civilians including five children in a school turned shelter in the town of Sarmin. Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people including over 115,000 civilians since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of  anti-government protests.

In total 11,215 people including more than 1,000 children were killed last year, although it was the least deadly year on record since the beginning of the conflict.

With the support of powerful allies Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has inched his way back in recent years to controlling almost two-thirds of the country.

That comes after a string of victories against rebels and jihadists since 2015, but also his forces being deployed to parts of the northeast of the country under a deal to halt a Turkish cross-border operation last year.

Several parts of the country, however, remain beyond the reach of the Damascus regime.

They include the last major opposition bastion of Idlib, a region of some three million people that is ruled by the jihadists of HTS.

An escalation in violence there in recent weeks has caused 284,000 people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

In the northeast, Turkish troops and their proxies control a strip of land along the border after seizing it from Kurdish fighters earlier this year.

Kurdish-led forces control the far east Syria, where US troops have been deployed near major oil fields.

Syria’s conflict is estimated to have set its economy back three decades, destroying infrastructure and paralysing the production of electricity and oil.