Russia announces ceasefire in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province

Russia announces ceasefire in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province
Russian forces have announced a ceasefire in Syria’s war-ravaged Idlib province, following an agreement with Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of people have recently fled Russian airstrikes.
2 min read
10 January, 2020
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by Russian airstrikes [Getty]

Russian forces announced on Thursday that a ceasefire had begun in Syria's Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold in the country, in accordance with an agreement between Russia and Turkey

From 2 pm local time (1100 GMT) "a ceasefire has been in place in the de-escalation zone of Idlib," the Russian military's “Centre for Reconciliation in Syria” said in a statement.

Earlier on Thursday, however, Russian airstrikes forced thousands of civilians to flee Idlib city.

Despite a ceasefire announced at the end of August 2019, the Syrian regime and Russia have recently intensified their airstrikes on rebel-held Idlib in northwest Syria, killing hundreds of people and targeting hospitals and schools.

Read more: How Russia uses 'de-escalation agreements' to destroy cities in Syria

The Russian and regime airstrikes have displaced nearly 300,000 people, according to the United Nations, with most of the refugees heading towards the Turkish border, which is closed.

Thursday's announcement came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in Istanbul with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The leaders also used a joint statement to call for a truce "supported by the necessary measures to be taken for stabilising the situation on the ground" in Libya.

On Tuesday Turkey had called for Russia to stop the regime attacks on Idlib and respect the August ceasefire.

Syria’s conflict started in 2011, after President Bashar al-Assad’s regime brutally suppressed pro-democracy protests. More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since then, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces to capture large parts of the country from the armed opposition.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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