In the south-eastern Idlib countryside, fierce battles are raging between the forces of the regime and the militias supporting them on the one hand, and the fighters of the “Sham Liberation” and the opposition factions on the other hand. More than 95 civilians have been killed and more than 200 wounded in three weeks of intense air attacks on the “tension reduction” areas in Idlib, reached at the Astana talks.
At the same time, the regime’s forces, backed by elements of the Iranian “Jerusalem Brigade”, arrived on the outskirts of Abu Dhour military airport. It seems that the situation has become difficult, as a result of heavy losses suffered on Thursday, where dozens of dead and prisoners of their forces in a counter-attack carried out by “the Liberation of the Sham”. On the other hand, the displaced Department’s “rescue government” northern Syria, said that more than 280 thousand people have been displaced by the recent fighting between the Syrian regime and the armed opposition in the rural provinces of Idlib and Hama.
In the meantime, Turkish Prime Minister Ben Ali Yildirim warned of a new wave of immigration to the Syrians as a result of the increasing attacks on Idlib. “The increase in attacks on Idlib will cause new migration and casualties,” he told reporters after Friday prayers. He called on Iran and Russia to warn the Syrian authorities of these attacks. He said the attacks would only undermine the peace process in Syria.
Turkey believes that the Syrian forces’ advance in the areas of tension reduction in Idlib is not a simple violation of the cease-fire, but rather a violation of the agreement reached by the Guarantor States.
The latest developments led to a telephone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, during which he asked the Turkish President to stop the attack by the regime forces on Idlib and Ghouta. Earlier, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of Iran and Russia to protest against the recent escalation. Meanwhile, the armed Syrian opposition factions launched an offensive against the regime forces in the Idlib and Hama villages. In the past 48 hours, this attack resulted in the killing of dozens of the regime’s forces and the capture of others in the battles, some of which took place in the vicinity of the Abu Dhour military airport.
According to a statement by the armed opposition, the attack began under the name of “the response of tyranny” at dawn on Thursday, and the factions were able to recover many of the towns and villages that were controlled by the regime forces in the attack since 25 December last. In the Idlib countryside, opposition sources said their forces had repulsed the attack by the regime’s ones at the Abu Dhour military airport and managed to recover the town of Tel Salmu, which was close to the airport, seized by the regime forces on Wednesday. In the villages of Hama, the opposition forces took control of the towns of Atshan, Khawain, Zarzur, Umm al-Khalakhil, Al-Nadaf and Halil checkpoints.
Simultaneously with these battles, the regime’s planes and artillery shelled residential neighborhoods in the northern towns of Hama, focused on Latamna and Kafarzita, causing great destruction and massive displacement of civilians. Russian planes also bombed the town of Khan al-Sabeel, Mahershurin, Maasran and Idlib. The shelling of displaced persons camps in the countryside of Idlib.