INFOGRAPHIC - Assad regime, allies step up attacks in Syria's Idlib

Attacks leave dozens of civilians dead, force thousands to flee towards Turkish border

Selen Temizer, Esref Musa, Burak Karacaoglu   | 03.05.2019
INFOGRAPHIC - Assad regime, allies step up attacks in Syria's Idlib

IDLIB, Syria 

The Assad regime and its allies have stepped up attacks in recent days on northwestern Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone, leaving 33 civilians dead and forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes. 

Since talks were held in Astana in April under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Russia and Iran, the Assad regime and its allies have carried out numerous air and ground attacks on civilian areas within the de-escalation zone.

Mohamed Hallaj, head of the Coordinators of Interventions in Syria, an NGO, told Anadolu Agency that the violence had forced some 6,000 families -- 42,000 people -- to flee the region since April.

Hallaj expects the trend to continue, with displaced persons taking shelter in the Atme region near the Turkey-Syria border, which was already purged of terrorist elements by Turkey's Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield operations.

Areas subjected to recent regime attacks include Idlib’s southwestern villages of Kansafra, Termela, Bsekla, Has, Kafarin, Abdin, Ureynibe, Al-Habit and Al-Mintar; the Kafranbude and Latemne districts on Hama’s rural outskirts; and the villages of Al-Sahr, Al-Inkawi, Al-Tuwayna, Al-Uramye, Bab al-Taqa, Al-Huwayz, Al-Hamra, Al-Hawwas and Al-Hawice west of Hama city.

According to a tally compiled by Anadolu Agency, at least 33 civilians have been killed in attacks since April 25.

In its April report, the U.K.-based Syrian Network for Human Rights said 127 civilians had been killed by regime attacks while another 13 were killed by Russian airstrikes.

Home to some four million civilians, Idlib and its surrounding areas were designated as a de-escalation zone in May 2017 in line with earlier agreements reached in Astana between Turkey, Russia and Iran.

The Idlib de-escalation zone is largely under the control of the Free Syrian Army. The moderate opposition in the region is capable of fielding some 50,000 fighters, while anti-regime groups, such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, are able to field about 18,000.

Eastern, western and southern parts of the region remain besieged by regime forces, while the Turkish military remains deployed near the northern border.

Regime forces have continued to carry out attacks in the region despite a Turkey-Russia deal arrived at last September to guarantee the ceasefire in Idlib.

Russia, the guarantor state for the Assad regime, is theoretically responsible for preventing such attacks.

The Turkish Armed Forces has set up 12 observation posts in the region to guarantee the ceasefire. Assad regime forces and Iranian-backed foreign terrorist groups, however, are deployed only kilometers from these observation posts.

Backed by Russia and Iran, the Assad regime currently controls some 60 percent of Syrian territory, while the opposition and anti-regime armed groups control roughly 10 percent.

The U.S.-backed YPG/PKK terrorist group, meanwhile, holds roughly 28 percent of Syrian territory, including a number of oil-rich territories, while the Daesh terrorist group continues to hold about 2 percent of Syrian territory near Homs.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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