Syria regime resumes aerial bombing campaign in Idlib, casting ever-increasing doubt on failing ceasefire
Three Idlib villages were shelled, including one near the southeastern Jabal al-Zawiya region, raising analysts' fears that a joint Turkish-Russian ceasefire could collapse.
The shelling follows an earlier round of attacks on Wednesday which hit two villages located in Idlib's eastern and southern countryside, according to local media sources.
A 12 January ceasefire between Turkey and Russia, the two major power brokers who support opposing sides in Syria’s conflict, proved futile when the Assad regime and its allies defied the agreement and launched continual attacks.
To end the escalating bloodshed, Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow last month to forge a new deal.
While the two signatories have remained loyal to the ceasefire, conducting joint patrols along a de-escalation corridor, Syrian regime forces continue to violate the deal.
A Turkey-backed opposition fighter was killed east of Idlib on Wednesday following rocket fire from regime-controlled Saraqeb, which has seen a wave of regime reinforcements, The New Arab’s Arabic language sister-site reported.
The Syrian regime army, supported by Iran-backed fighters, has begun to loot civilian properties in recaptured areas of Idlib, local sources told Andalou Agency.
Footage shared to social media shows fighters stealing doors and windows, as well as electrical wires and kitchen appliances, from civilian houses.
These have reportedly been transported to Aleppo and Damascus and sold for low prices.
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The developments in Idlib come despite the formal end to Damascus' military offensive in the region, following a Moscow-backed campaign that displaced millions of civilians.
Their plight remains a key concern of aid groups, especially amid a coronavirus outbreak in the region which has killed two and infected eight others.
In a phone call on Thursday, Erdogan and Putin discussed the implications of the pandemic for Russian citizens stranded in Turkey, stopping short of addressing the impact on Idlib's displaced refugees.