White Helmets civil defense at a site bombed by Russian-regime forces in Al-Bab, Aleppo Province, northwest Syria, February 2, 2020
Fighting has escalated in western Aleppo Province in northwest Syria, with Russian-regime attacks trying to seize territory and anti-Assad forces counter-attacking outside Aleppo city.
International attention — but no international action — has been focused on the Russian-regime assault on neighboring Idlib Province, with more than 1,500 civilians killed, thousands wounded, and more than 800,000 displaced in the greater Idlib area since late April.
But having seized almost all of northern Hama Province and part of southern Idlib, Russia and the Assad regime have recently stepped up air and ground attacks on opposition-held territory in western Aleppo.
Local sources said pro-Assad warplanes targeted the city of Al-Bab, 35 miles northeast of Aleppo city, early Sunday. The Sheikh al-Doshel mosque was among the sites struck.
The bombing of the city was the first since 2017.
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 2, 2020
Turkish-supported forces of the Syrian National Army had counter-attacked south of Al-Bab early Saturday, seizing two joint Russian-regime checkpoints in the Shaala radar base. Several pro-Assad fighters were reportedly captured.
The jihadist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham carried out two suicide car bomb attacks on regime positions on the western edge of Aleppo city. Fighting was reported in the al-Zahraa district.
Syrian State news agency SANA insisted regime troops destroyed four car bombs before they reached their targets. Pro-Assad outlets claimed a “fierce attack” had been repelled, by anti-Assad sites said a group of houses on a hill overlooking Aleppo were taken.
Pro-Assad forces occupied eastern Aleppo city in December 2016, after a months-long siege and bombing campaign that killed thousands of civilians. More than 50,000 civilians were forcibly transferred to other parts of northern Syria.