Russia announces ceasefire in Syria as Turkey warns of new 'wave of refugees'
The Russian Defence Ministry announced on Friday that a ceasefire would take effect in the rebel-held region of Idlib in northwestern Syria.
The Russian news agency Sputnik quoted the Russian Reconciliation Centre in Syria as saying that “the ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib will begin on 31st August”.
The Syrian regime has made advances in the Idlib province and launched ferocious airstrikes against civilian areas across the city. On Thursday it captured the strategic town of Taman’a and killed 13 civilians in airstrikes on Wednesday evening in the city of Maarat al-Numan.
Most of the residents of the city, which once had a population of 80,000, have now fled. The UN warned earlier this week that towns and villages were being “razed to the ground”.
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Around 30 people were killed in further airstrikes in Idlib province on Thursday according to a correspondent for The New Arab.
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday morning that the Syrian regime’s deadly assault on the rebel-held area could “unleash another wave of refugees across Europe”.
Also on Friday morning, rebels repulsed an attempted regime advance in the north of Hama province.
The news of the ceasefire came as hundreds of Syrians protested at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Idlib province and Turkey against the regime’s assault on Idlib.
The protesters stormed the crossing’s gate, prompting Turkish police to fire in the air to disperse them. Turkey hosts a population of over three and a half million Syrian refugees but there has been rising racism against them recently.
Activists in Idlib province had earlier called for Syrians to protest against the regime’s bloody assault, which began in late April and has killed 1,248 people according to Syrian first responders. At least 450,000 people have been displaced and refugee camps have been unable to take them in.
The Syrian conflict began in 2011, following the brutal suppression of protests by the Assad regime.
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