Syria: Ceasefire announcement in Idlib overshadowed by further violence


Clashes and heavy airstrikes resumed in northwest Syria on Thursday and Friday, despite a brief lull in the fighting on Wednesday after Russia's unilateral announcement of a ceasefire.

Clashes and airstrikes in the Greater Idlib Region in northwest Syria have continued, despite a unilateral ceasefire announced by Russia on Wednesday evening.

The ceasefire, which was announced by the head of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Warring Parties, Major-General Viktor Kupchishin, had brought some momentary calm to a region mired by intensifying levels of violence in recent months.

Airstrikes ceased on Wednesday, although much of the bombardment, shelling and ground clashes eventually resumed by Thursday. Earlier, Opposition groups, including Jaish al-Izza and the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) had rejected this ceasefire announcement with the General Coordinator for Revolutionary Affairs, Dr Zain Eddin, saying that any ceasefire made by Russia was “tantamount to an announcement of its weakness and raising the flag of surrender”.

On Friday, no new ground battles were reported overnight, although shelling between the Regime and Opposition continued, with pro-Regime artillery and aircraft targeting the towns of Kafr Zita, Morek, Lataminah, Jubain, Khan Sheikhoun, Arinbeh, Harish, Abidin, Sahin, Kafr Sajna, Ma’arat Hurmah. Kafr Nabl and Asim over the past 24 hours.

Airstrikes also targeted the ICARDA facility in southern Aleppo and a nearby camp for displaced people in Tal Hadiya, with at least one civilian killed and many others injured.

The uptick in violence after the ceasefire announcement came amidst the shelling of a Turkish army observation post in the Zawiya Mountain of the Greater Idlib region on Thursday.

The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that the post was shelled by rebel group Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and that the Russian Air Force had subsequently conducted airstrikes on the HTS positions through data provided by the Turkish armed forces.

In a statement issued on Friday, however, the Turkish Ministry of Defence rejected the Russian version of the events surrounding yesterday’s targeting of the observation post, noting that the claim “does not reflect the truth”.

The statement came hours after the Turkish Presidential Spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, accused the Syrian army of engaging in “provocations” and added that Ankara remains in talks with Moscow to resolve the situation.

Amidst these developments, civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict. According to local sources, the fighting has killed more than 600 civilians and displaced around 300,000 others.

Image: Anas al-Dyab/AFP