Russia-regime attacks follow Turkish rejection of pro-Assad offensive on last major opposition area


UPDATE 1030 GMT: Russian-regime bombing of Idlib and northern Hama Provinces continues on Sunday.

Medical facilities continue to be targeted, with the hospital in Lataminah in northern Hama reportedly knocked out of service. Three hospitals, two White Helmets civil defense centres, and an ambulance system have now been damaged in recent days, according to the Union of Medical Care & Relief Organizations.

Having failed to persuade Turkey to accept a pro-Assad offensive on opposition-held Idlib Province in northwest Syria, Russia joined the Assad regime in strikes and shelling on the area on Saturday.

On Friday, a summit of the Russian, Turkish, and Iranian Presidents in Tehran ended in disagreement. Using his standard pretext of eliminating “terrorists”, Russia’s Vladimir Putin rejected a ceasefire — even though the three countries proclaimed a “de-escalation zone” over Idlib, western Aleppo, and northern Hama Provinces last year — and sought the assault. A “senior Russian diplomat” erased the line between “terrorists” and the rest of the estimated 3 million people in Idlib: “There’s no ‘moderate opposition’ left.”

But Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held out: “If the world turns a blind eye to the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people to further the [Assad] regime’s interests, we will neither watch from the sidelines nor participate in such a game.”

See Syria Daily, Sept 8: Russia & Iran Split from Turkey in Summit Over Idlib

The Russians and Assad regime made a violent point yesterday with the bombardment of towns across Idlib and northern Hama, including at least a dozen airstrikes and barrel-bombing.

The White Helmets civil defense said four people, including a child, were killed by Russian bombing of the village of Abdeen.

Deaths were also reported from northern Hama, and a hospital in the town of Hass was knocked out of service.

The wreckage of the underground hospital at Hass:

Turkey Maintains Opposition

Turkey continued to push back against both the Russian political pressure and the pro-Assad attacks.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu repeated his warning about a “serious humanitarian tragedy” and said he expected military operations to give way to a political process to resolve the province’s status and the issue of “terrorists”.

Çavuşoğlu said he had spoken with German counterpart Heiko Maas, expressing concern about mass displacements in Idlib: “A refugee influx will affect both us and Europe.”

Maas responded in a German newspaper, “intense diplomatic efforts continue to prevent a big disaster in Idlib.”

18 Killed in Regime-Kurdish Clash in Northeast

A clash between the US-backed Kurdish militia YPG and Assad regime personnel has killed 18 combatants in the divided city of Qamishli in northeastern Syria.

The police force of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) said, “[A regime] patrol opened fire on our forces with light and medium weapons, causing our forces to respond to this violation, which killed 11 regime fighters…and seven of our comrades.”

Local sources said the fighting began when members of the Kurdish police, Asayish, asked regime fighters aboard a patrol vehicle to step out but they refused.

At the scene, there were empty camouflaged pick-up trucks with blood holes and blood on the road.

The YPG and Asayish control most of Qamishli, but regime forces and pro-Assad militia hold part of the city and the airport.

The last significant clashes between the two sides were in April 2016.