Syria and Russia Bomb Rebel-Held Idlib Province
September 8, 2018
BEIRUT — Syrian government and Russian warplanes bombed the southern edge of Idlib Province on Saturday, ratcheting up military pressure on the densely populated rebel-held bastion.
The bombings came a day after a summit meeting in Tehran where the Syrian government’s ally Russia rejected Turkey’s call for a cease-fire while Iran, another Syria backer, called for a military push to crush the rebels and drive out American forces.
More than 60 airstrikes, including indiscriminate barrel bombs dropped from helicopters, killed at least four civilians in the area, according to rescue workers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain.
The state-run Al-Ikhbariya television station said the government was retaliating against shelling Friday night from rebel-held areas on a government-held town in Hama Province, south of Idlib. Nine civilians were killed in the shelling, state media reported. The state news agency SANA said government forces have shelled “terrorist” posts in northern Hama.
But the government and Russian raids targeted a wide swath of rebel-held area in the southern edge of the rebel-held enclave that includes most of Idlib Province and northern Hama Province. More than 3 million people live in the area, nearly half of them already displaced from fighting elsewhere in Syria.
The Observatory described the attacks on the rebel-held areas as the “most intense” since August.
The local council of Morek, a town that serves as a crossing between Hama and Idlib, sent an urgent appeal, asking Turkey to intervene.
“We need a quick solution or our town will burn!” the official pleaded in an audio recording shared on social media platforms.