Syrian regime pounds Idlib, ignoring Trump ceasefire call

Syrian regime pounds Idlib, ignoring Trump ceasefire call
Syria's regime continued to bomb Idlib province on Monday killing six people, some of them at a market in Maarat al-Numan, despite US president Trump's call for a ceasefire.
3 min read
03 June, 2019
The Syrian Civil Defence evacuates wounded civilians following the attack on Maarat al-Numan [Getty]
Airstrikes by the Syrian regime killed six civilians in northwest Syria on Monday, hours after US President Donald Trump urged Damascus and its allies to "stop bombing the hell" out of Idlib province.

Bombing and shelling by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia of Idlib province and neighbouring areas have killed more than 300 people and displaced more than 200,000 since late April.

The regime attacks, which comes despite a truce deal brokered by Moscow and Ankara in September 2018, has raised fears of a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale yet unseen in Syria's eight-year conflict, which has already claimed more than 500,000 lives.

The Kremlin insisted Monday that the Russian army was only targeting "terrorists" in Syria's Idlib region, which is dominated by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group dominated by former members of Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate.

"Terrorist fire in Idlib is of course unacceptable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Measures are being taken to neutralise such firing positions."

The comments came in response to Trump's tweet. 

Despite Trump's call for a halt to the violence, the aerial bombardment on Monday did not relent.

At least four civilians were killed and many more were wounded when the regime struck a market in the town of Maarat al-Numan.

Another civilian was killed in the nearby town of Heish, while a sixth was killed by rocket fire on a village in the neighbouring province of Hama.

Human Rights Watch on Monday accused the Syrian regime and its ally Russia of using "internationally banned and other indiscriminate weapons in unlawful attacks on civilians in northwest Syria in recent weeks."

It said they "used banned cluster munitions and incendiary weapons... along with large air-dropped explosive weapons with wide-area effects, including 'barrel bombs'."  

Analysts predict that President Bashar al-Assad and his allies will continue to bomb the area, but not unleash a major assault that would create chaos on Turkey's doorstep.

In recent weeks, opposition and regime forces have engaged in fierce battles over positions on the fringes of the enclave.

On Monday also, the regime tried to advance against rebels in the north-east of Latakia province. The clashes killed 12 pro-regime fighters and seven rebels.

The latest violence in Idlib province comes amid soaring tensions between Syria and Israel.  

The Syrian regime accused Israel of targeting an airbase in Homs province overnight, reportedly killing five people, just hours after carrying out raids on military and intelligence posts south of Damascus that killed 10.

"Our air defences thwarted an Israeli aggression and destroyed two of the rockets that targeted the T-4 airbase," a military source told regime news agency SANA. 

The remaining rockets "killed one soldier, wounded two others, and damaged an arms warehouse," the source added. 

In addition to the Syrian army, Iranian fighters and Hizballah paramilitary forces are also stationed at the airbase.

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