Over 180 000 civilians left Idlib and 160 were killed as a fierce battle erupted between Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Damascus regime with its ally Russian forces.
This is in recent weeks as the battle over the control of north-western Syria rages on. Reuters reported yesterday, after an aerial bombing, the large number on civilians took shelter in olive groves at the border of Turkey.
“Escalating violence in north-western Syria threatens to trigger a humanitarian catastrophe that would affect more than 3 million people in the country’s Idlib Governorate,” senior United Nations officials told the Security Council yesterday, Reliefweb mentioned.
Many civilians who moved to the Syrian town of Atme located at the Turkish border, have no food and enough water, and these people have no place to go to, local media reported.
On recent developments in the region, the Turkish Defence Minister said in a statement a working group on Syria established by Russia and Turkey convened in Ankara on May 16-17 to discuss the latest situation in Idlib and other regional issues.
Turkey and Russia agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone to save the area from attacks, but foreign media reported much of the bombardment has hit the buffer zone agreed under a Russian-Turkish deal.
HTS never removed their heavy guns from the buffer zone and even defeated Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation in the region. As per the framework of the Astana Agreements, Turkey currently holds twelve cease-fire observatory points in the Idlib’s de-escalation zone, while Russia has ten posts.
Assad’s commander died
Syrian media organization Enab Baladi reported yesterday Bashar al Assad’s Colonel within the regime’s Air Force Intelligence, Bashar Ratabah, who was fighting on the frontlines in Idlib killed by rebels. The Enab Baladi correspondent in the Hama also said that Assad forces are attempting to infiltrate opposition-held areas in al-Ghab Plain, following the capturing ‘strategic’ town of al-Hwaiz.
As Russian-backed Syrian forces advanced in the region, HTS chief Abu Mohammed al-Jolani released a video message on Friday urging rival fighters allied to Turkey to take up arms against regime forces to ease the pressure on the jihadist bastion of Idlib.