Smoke rises from Assad regime bombing of Idlib Province, northwest Syria, July 5, 2019
Pro-Assad forces have renewed airstrikes on opposition-held northwest Syria, 10 days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed a “ceasefire” in attacks on civilian areas as well as anti-Assad fighters.
Local activists and citizen journalists in Idlib Province report bombardment of al-Dahra village, near the town of Darkush and west of Idlib city, on Tuesday.
Kafr Nabl, Hass, and villages in southern Idlib Province were shelled again by Assad regime forces.
— FARED_ALHOR (@FARED_ALHOR) September 10, 2019
The Russian Defense Ministry denied that attacks resumed: “Russian and Syrian air forces have not been carrying out any military missions to hit ground targets.”
But the pro-Assad blog Al Masdar eagerly headlined, “Russian Air Force Launches First Strikes Since Ceasefire Announcement”. The site, used as an outlet by the regime military, said the strikes were in the Jabal Al-Akrad region of northeastern Latakia Province.
The Russian-regime offensive, launched in late April, has repeatedly failed to advance in the mountainous area — notably in assaults on the mountaintop town of Kabani — even as it swept up almost all of northern Hama Province and part of southern Idlib.
At the start of September, with the next round of the “Astana” talks due next month between Russia, Turkey, and Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a pause in the offensive and operations that have included the killing of more than 900 civilians, wounding of thousands, and displacement of more than 400,000.
Idlib and northern Hama host an estimated 3 million Syrians, about 20% of the country’s remaining population. Many of them had already been displaced from other parts of Syria. The UN has warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” amid the Russian-regime assault.
The Assad regime also declared a ceasefire at the start of August, but continued shelling and then renewed the offensive after four days. Intense Russian airstrikes broke anti-Assad resistance, and the pro-Assad forces regained almost all of northern Hama. In southern Idlib, they reached the M5 highway between Aleppo and Homs, capturing the town of Khan Sheikhoun.
The next phase of the offensive is expected to seek an advance north along the M5, as well as trying to move on the city of Jisr al-Shughour in northwest Idlib.