UPDATE 1700 GMT: Turkish troops set up an observation post at al-Eis, in southwestern Aleppo Province near the Idlib border on Monday.

Hours later, there are reports of artillery clashes with pro–Assad, Iran-backed foreign militia.

The observation post is the fourth established by the Turkish military since it launched an offensive on January 18 toward the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northwest Syria.

TURKEY OBSERVATION POST AL-EIS


Russia’s warplanes pounded civilian areas in opposition-held Idlib Province in northwest Syria on Sunday, a day after a Russian Su-25 jet was downed and its pilot killed by anti-Assad forces.

More than 150 strikes were recorded in 15 cities and towns including Kafranbel, Maasran, Saraqeb, Maarat al Num’an, and Idlib city, the capital of the province. At least 18 people were killed and 47 wounded, according to Idlib Civil Defense.

Reports are also circulating of the use of chlorine weapons, with at least nine people treated for respiratory problems. Among the injured are three White Helmets volunteers.

A hospital was hit in Maarat al Num’an, and at least five people were believed to have been slain in a residential building in Kafranbel. In Idlib city, a five-storey building was leveled, with at least 15 people killed.

This morning the Orient Hotel in Kafranbel, where many injured had been taken, has been struck four times and put out of service.

Videos showed rescuers taking babies on stretchers out of the Maarat al-Num’an hospital, one of the largest in the province, as other volunteers tried to extinguish a fire.

Treating an infant who went into cardiac arrest:

Treatment of victims of the claimed chlorine attack:

Strikes this morning on Kafranbel:

Russia, Turkey, and Iran declared a de-escalation zone over Idlib, almost of which has been held by the opposition since spring 2015. However, Moscow soon set aside the declaration as its warplanes supported the re-entry of pro-Assad forces into the province.

The pro-Assad advance in southeast Idlib has recaptured the Abu Duhour airbase, and a further move to the west has taken the Assad regime’s military and its allies to 15 km (9 miles) from Saraqeb, which has been pounded by more than 100 airstrikes in the past week.

On Saturday, the Su-25 jet was struck by a portable, shoulder-fired missile as the Russians bombed near Saraqeb. The pilot, identified as Major Roman Fillipov Nikolayevich, ejected but was killed by anti-Assad forces on the ground.

Russia responded with airstrikes near the crash site, and missiles were fired from warships in the Mediterranean. At least 11 people, including children, were killed in the village of Khan al-Subl, and seven members of a family died in the town of Maasran.

“We are pulling bodies from under collapsed walls. The Russians are taking their revenge on civilians, many of whom were already displaced and had fled their homes from earlier bombardment,” said White Helmet rescuer Ahmad Hilal.

On Monday, the Kremlin avoided discussion of the strikes on civilian areas. Instead, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We are extremely worried that terrorists have man-portable antiaircraft missile systems in their possession. This is a huge danger to all states.”

Protest Against Hardline Islamist HTS in Binnish

Footage of a large protest against the hardline Islamist bloc Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Binnish in Idlib Province:

There has been ongoing civil resistance against HTS, which took military control of much of Idlib Province over the past year, defeating rebel factions.

Recent demonstrations have been spurred by the shooting of one protester and arrests of others.

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