Airstrikes intensify on rebel-held Syria’s Idlib
Russian and Syrian airstrikes heavily targeted rebel-held areas in Idlib and Hama provinces in northwestern Syria on Friday, a war monitor reported.
The airstrikes targeted the rebel positions in the southern countryside of Idlib and the northern countryside of Hama, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The UK-based watchdog group said 93 barrel bombs were dropped on the rebel-held areas on Friday alone.
It added that 34 Russian airstrikes targeted the rebel positions since midnight Friday.
Earlier this week, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported that the Syrian army had started sending reinforcements to Idlib as part of the preparation for a possible operation against the rebels.
The report said the new development comes as Turkey has failed to live up to its pledges regarding the rebels’ situation in Idlib, as de-escalation zones’ deal reached between Turkey and Russia last September is falling apart.
The army started sending reinforcements to the countryside of Idlib and nearby Hama after the increase in the attacks by the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front on military positions in the region.
Turkey and Russia brokered a deal last September to impose a demilitarized zone in Idlib and its surrounding areas. However, violations are still being reported on an almost daily basis.
The extremist groups such as the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) refused to withdraw from the zone.
On the contrary, the HTS expanded and controlled the entire Idlib area, which is the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.
The Syrian government has repeatedly said Idlib would inevitably return under the government control and the government’s patience has limits.