Smoke rises from a Russian airstrike west of Idlib city in northwest Syria, September 20, 2020 (AFP)
Russia has carried out airstrikes in Idlib Province in northwest Syria, including on a displaced persons camp.
The attacks are Moscow’s most significant breaking of a March 5 ceasefire, agreed between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They are the first strikes since attacks on the town of Binnish on August 2.
Pro-opposition activists and White Helmets rescuers reported at least 28 strikes on Sunday, wondering if they are the prelude to a renewed Russian-regime offensive.
Two people were injured this afternoon after Russian warplanes targeted the western outskirts of #Idlib City, Sijer, and Kafarajales towns with 28 airstrikes. Our #WhiteHelmets responded to the targeted location and worked to rescue the victims and put out the fires. pic.twitter.com/fNCaqck67u
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) September 20, 2020
Activists said pro-Assad forces tried to seize territory in southern Idlib Province, but were repelled.
An 11-month offensive, checked by the Putin-Erdoğan agreement, seized almost all of northern Hama Province and parts of Idlib. The Russian-regime attacks killed about 2,000 civilians, wounded thousands, and displaced more than 1 million.
Of the 4.7 million people in opposition-held northwest Syria — 3 million in Idlib and 1.7 in northern Aleppo Province — about 2.7 million have been displaced from other parts of Syria.
Smoke rises from one of Sunday’s strikes:
توثيقي لبعض الغارات الروسية التي استهدفت اطراف مدينة ادلب اليوم pic.twitter.com/nnwNh5Yygz
— انس المعراوي Anas ALmaarawi (@anasanas84) September 20, 2020
Russian State media did not mention the attacks. Instead, they tried to cover them with the disinformation that anti-Assad fighters and the White Helmets rescuers “are preparing provocation with the use of toxic agents in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone”.
Between 2014 and 2017, the Assad regime carried out a series of attacks with the nerve agent sarin, killing about 90 people and wounding hundreds in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017, and with chlorine.
The attacks were only checked when inspectors, from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN, formally found the Assad regime culpable for attacks on Khan Sheikhoun and on Lataminah, in northern Hama Province, days earlier.