Russia news: Putin to resume Syria airstrikes - ceasefire with Turkey facing collapse • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Russia news: Putin to resume Syria airstrikes – ceasefire with Turkey facing collapse

Russian envoy: Demilitarised zone in Idlib needs more time


Kremlin envoy Alexander Lavrentyev said 15,000 fighters aligned with the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate that has since been renamed itself Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, were still holed up in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. Idlib remains home to a number of jihadi groups but also other opposition fighters and many more civilians. The area was subject to a ceasefire deal with Turkey which promised to help with the withdrawal of jihadi forces from a newly-created demilitarised zone near the Syrian border. But Mr Lavrentyev said Russia was now ready to help other rebels defeat Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and even proposed a united front between the Syrian military and opposition forces.

He said: “We very much hope that the moderate opposition’s armed units will manage to resolve the situation in this troubled area and establish order themselves.

“If needed, we are ready to provide all possible help, including the assistance of the Syrian government forces.”

Turkey struck the ceasefire deal with Moscow in September amid fears of a humanitarian disaster on its doorstep and the growing risk to its own troops posted in the war-torn region.

Heavy weaponry was apparently removed from a 12-mile demilitarised zone in mid-October but a deadline demanding the withdrawal of jihadi groups passed days later with the militants remaining defiant.


Russia has threatened to resume airstrikes on Syrian insurgents (Image: GETTY)

Syrian rebel

Russia claims 15,000 fighters have failed to leave Idlib (Image: GETTY)

The Syrian government has signalled it is growing impatient with the truce and has blamed Turkey for not doing enough to oust Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

President Vladimir Putin also called on Turkey to do more after Russia launched air strikes against Syrian rebels after an alleged chemical attack on the government-held city of Aleppo.

Both Syria and its Russian allies say shells carrying toxic gas injured about 100 people late on Saturday.

State media showed images of Aleppo residents being treated in hospital as they struggled to breathe.


Russian air forces waged a devastating bombing campaign in support of the Syrian government (Image: GETTY)

The rebels deny carrying out a chemical strike and say the claims are a pretext for an attack on opposition-held areas.

Parts of the Aleppo region, as well as the neighbouring provinces of Hama and Idlib, are controlled by Turkish-backed rebels and jihadists.

On Sunday the Russian defence ministry said warplanes had launched strikes on “the identified positions of terrorist artillery in the area that shelled civilians in the city of Aleppo” the previous evening.

It added that all “militant” targets had been “destroyed”.

Foreign interventions have largely defeated ISIS but the Russia-Iran-Syria axis has also reclaimed almost all formerly rebel-held land, leaving only Idlib and its outskirts.

The Syrian military began amassing reinforcements along the province in August, prompting Western threats of intervention.

Source: Russia news: Putin to resume Syria airstrikes – ceasefire with Turkey facing collapse | World | News |

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