Syrian government intensifies attacks on rebels
Syrian government bombardment of rebel-held areas in the country’s northwest has killed and wounded dozens and forced thousands to flee their homes, further endangering an eight-month truce in the last major rebel stronghold, opposition activists said Saturday.
The recent escalation of violence is the most serious in Idlib province and nearby areas since Russia and Turkey negotiated a cease-fire in September. The shaky truce had averted a major government offensive on the rebels.
On Saturday, government forces were sending new reinforcements toward Idlib, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and hundreds of troops.
Over the past weeks, government forces have bombarded rebel-held areas while al Qaeda-linked militants attacked army positions around Idlib, killing more than two dozen troops and pro-government gunmen over the past week.
The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense said 22 civilians have been killed and more than 60 wounded in air strikes and shelling since Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported more than 115 strikes against rebel-held areas on Saturday alone. It said six civilians were killed on Saturday raising to 67 the number of civilians and insurgents killed since Tuesday when the government began its new campaign.