Syria, in new violation of the truce, at least 9 civilians die in Idlib
The daily al-Araby al-Jadeed reported that at least nine civilians, including children, lost their lives on Thursday, July 15, following attacks perpetrated by the forces of the government of Damascus, assisted by Moscow, in various areas of the northwestern governorate of Idlib.
The news was reported by the daily al-Araby al-Jadeed, based on local sources. Specifically, an activist said that a first bombing hit the town of Iblin, near Jabal al-Zawiya, on the southern outskirts of Idlib. Here, a woman and her two children died, while four other children were injured, some in serious condition. The Syrian Civil Defense, a humanitarian organization, also known as “White Helmets,” also confirmed the news, speaking of an attack conducted by guided missiles. However, another bombing, carried out using artillery, instead hit the east of Idlib and, in particular, the vicinity of al-Fou’a, north-east of the homonymous capital.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), six civilian victims, including a child, were injured. At the same time, another eight were wounded. Similar attacks have also affected other locations in the same governorate, including the village of Hmeimat and Arnabah, south of Idlib. In contrast, Russian reconnaissance planes have been seen flying over the airspace of the Northwest region.
Idlib is the last stronghold controlled mainly by opposition groups and is home to around 4 million inhabitants. The presidents of Turkey and Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, favored a ceasefire agreement in the governorate, signed on March 5, 2020. It extended at the end of the talks held in Sochi on February 16 and 17. Although the truce has been violated several times over the past year, the agreement between Moscow and Ankara avoided a full-scale offensive.
However, in June, the North-West governorate has witnessed tensions for about four weeks, starting from June 29. These mainly affected Jabal al-Zawiya, in the south of Idlib, and Al-Ghab, west of Hama. In its latest report, the Syrian Civil Defense reported that the raids in Damascus and Moscow resulted in the killing of more than 110 people, including 23 children, 19 women, and two volunteers. The number of injured passed 296, including 52 children under 14 and 11 volunteers in 2021 only.
According to some analysts, the June escalation was due to the outcomes of two events deemed relevant. The first is linked to the resumption of the Astana talks, negotiations concerning the Syrian crisis, in which Turkey, Russia, and Iran play the role of guarantors. The second concerns the vote of the United Nations Security Council on the mechanism for sending humanitarian aid through Bab al-Hawa. This crossing connects Turkey to Idlib, placed under the control of opposition groups.
Despite initial opposition from Moscow, on July 9, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution extending the cross-border humanitarian assistance mechanism between Syria and Turkey for six months, renewable up to a total of 12. Russia sees this mechanism as a form of violation of Damascus’ sovereignty over Syria. It has previously requested that humanitarian aid be transferred only through crossings controlled by pro-government forces. However, extending the duration of the mechanism to six months instead of twelve was a compromise also accepted by the Russian side.
These developments are part of the ongoing Syrian conflict, which has been going on for about ten years. This broke out on March 15, 2011, when part of the Syrian population started demonstrating and demanding the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian regime’s army is assisted by Moscow and supported by Iran and the pro-Iranian Lebanese militias of Hezbollah. On the other side are the rebels, who receive the support of Turkey.