HTS-affiliated petrol company headquarters bombed in Syria’s Idlib province as ceasefire violations continue

HTS-affiliated petrol company headquarters bombed in Syria’s Idlib province as ceasefire violations continue
A drone of unknown origin has bombed the headquarters of the Watad Petroleum Company, which is the sole company distributing petroleum in rebel-held Idlib province, causing major damage.
2 min read
31 July, 2020
The drones caused major damage to the Watad Oil Company's facilities [Facebook]

A drone bombed the headquarters of the Watad Petroleum Company in the town of Sarmada in rebel-held Idlib province around noon on Friday.

This is the second time the headquarters is bombed this month. Watad is the sole company importing petroleum to rebel-held areas of Syria from Turkey.

It belongs to the unrecognised “National Salvation Government”, which was established by the hardline Islamist group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) which dominates most of Idlib province.

Local sources told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the drone bombing caused huge explosions which resulted in great material damage. They said that three rockets were fired at the company headquarters simultaneously.

Two lorries and a number of storage facilities were destroyed, and fires broke out throughout most of the headquarters.

Watad was established in 2018. Its headquarters were previously bombed on 18 July.

In the south of Idlib province, regime planes bombed several villages including Qauqaifin, Al-Mauzara, and Kensafra on Friday morning.

On Thursday night, rebel groups shelled and launched rockets at regime forces in retaliation for previous regime bombing of southern Idlib province.

Following a bloody regime campaign against Idlib province in late 2019 and early 2020, a ceasefire agreement was signed by Turkey, which supports Syrian rebels, and Russia, which backs the Assad regime, in March.

However, it is frequently violated by the regime and Russia, which continue to shell and carry out airstrikes against rebel-held areas.

There are growing fears that the regime and its allies are gearing up for a major new assault on Idlib province.

On Wednesday the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that pro-Iran militias had arrived on the frontlines in western Aleppo province from eastern Syria.

Like Russia, Iran is one of the regime’s key backers in the Syrian conflict, which broke out in 2011 after the brutal suppression of pro-democracy protests by the Assad regime.

Anadolu said that the militia reinforcements were the biggest since the March ceasefire, consisting of approximately 300 men as well as heavy weapons and armoured vehicles.

Anadolu also reported on Thursday that 150 Egyptian troops had arrived in Syria to support Assad’s forces but this was later denied by the Egyptian government.

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