Regime Shells Northwest Syria Despite Moscow’s Ceasefire Announcement
Syrian regime forces and their allies shelled opposition-held areas of northwestern Syria on Wednesday night and early Thursday, a war monitor said, despite Russia saying that it and Turkey had brokered a new ceasefire there.
The opposition fired artillery at government forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said. Air strikes paused overnight, but resumed on Thursday morning, it added.
Late Wednesday, the Russian military said that Moscow and Ankara had agreed a complete new ceasefire in the northwest, centered on Idlib province, but it did not say how long the truce would last.
“At Russia’s initiative, with the mediation of Turkey and Russia, a ceasefire agreement was concluded in the Idlib de-escalation zone as of midnight on June 12,” the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria said in a statement.
The Syrian government launched its offensive against northwest Syria in late April.
Moscow and Ankara had agreed a partial truce last September that called for an end to bombardment of the area and for Ankara to pull heavy weapons and militant groups from frontline areas.
The fighting has caused hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom had already been displaced, to flee further north and seek shelter along the Turkish border.
Turkey has pushed Russia to rein in the regime’s offensive while Russia has said Turkey must curb the militant groups that dominate in Idlib.
On Thursday morning, warplanes targeted the area around Khan Sheikhoun, an opposition-held town in southern Idlib province, the Observatory said.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said that Syrian government forces have attacked a Turkish observation point in Idlib, in what it assessed to be a deliberate attack involving 35 mortar shells.
Three Turkish soldiers were slightly wounded in the attack, the ministry said in a statement, and some equipment and facilities were damaged. Ankara has made representations to Moscow about the incident, it said.