Three killed as Syrian regime targets Turkish observation posts in Idlib
Syrian regime forces intensified their shelling of southern Idlib province on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, targeting towns and villages in the vicinity of Turkish observation posts, killing three people including a child.
Syrian activist Mohammed Al-Daher told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that regime forces targeted more than 20 towns and villages in the area on Monday, killing one person in the village of Balyun and another in the village of Sunbul.
He added that regime forces had also shelled the rebel-held Sahl al-Ghab area of Hama province.
Another activist, Bilal Bayyoush, told The New Arab’s Arabic service on Tuesday morning that the regime bombed a house in the village of Iblin in Jabal Al-Zawiya, killing a child and wounding two others.
Al-Daher said that regime forces had targeted Turkish observation posts, near the frontline with rebels, with a Russian-made Smerch rockets, which have high destructive power.
Turkish forces on Sunday evening shelled a Syrian regime base in Hama province following previous regime attacks which killed one civilian and injured two, including a young girl.
Turkey maintains a number of military observation posts in rebel-held northwestern Syria and has in the past week sent reinforcements there in response to renewed regime shelling of opposition-held areas.
A ceasefire has theoretically been in place in Idlib province since March 2020 but it is frequently violated by the regime and its ally Russia.
Colonel Mustafa Bakkour, a spokesman for the Jaysh Al-Izza rebel group told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the regime and Russia had escalated attacks in Idlib province in the run-up to a new round of talks on de-escalation between regime and opposition forces in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana.
"We have become used to Russian military escalation before every round of Astana [talks], as part of Russian pressure on Turkey for concessions on the Syrian issue. Today the shelling began to target the Turkish observation posts in southern Idlib province," Bakkour said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Middle East and North Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov, said on Friday that the 16th round of the Astana talks would take place at the end of June. Turkey, which supports the opposition, and Russia and Iran, which back the Assad regime, are expected to attend.
Elsewhere in Syria, three regime soldiers from the elite Fourth Division, including an officer, were killed in an ambush by Islamic State group militants near the ancient city of Palmyra in eastern Homs province.
A suicide bomber also blew himself up in the main market of Al-Rai on Monday in northern Aleppo province, killing a refugee and injuring nine civilians. The area is under the control of Turkish-backed Syrian fighters.
The Syrian conflict began in 2011 after the brutal suppression of pro-democracy protests by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since then, mostly as a result of regime bombing of civilian areas.