Russia admits support for Syrian regime attacks in Idlib despite Sochi deal

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 30.07.2019 00:15

Russia openly expressed its support for the Syrian regime in northwestern Idlib province Monday, confessing that it is backing the violations of the Sochi deal that was signed with Turkey.

Russia confessed to supporting the Syrian regime in Idlib despite the Sochi agreement reached by Turkey and Russia to preserve the cease-fire in the region.

The Russian Air Force helped the Syrian army repel attacks carried out by opposition groups in Idlib's de-escalation zone on Sunday, the TASS news agency reported on Monday, citing a senior defense ministry official. The most recent assistance of Russia to the regime came on Sunday as the Syrian regime attack killed 15 civilians, including two children and three women. The attack was the latest of the Syrian regime forces backed by Russia, which has been continuing its aerial and ground attacks since April on Idlib, a province that has a population of around 4 million made up of mostly civilians evacuated from various points in the country in August last year.

Idlib, which is the last stronghold of opposition forces, is a strategic point for Bashar Assad, who has vowed to take back "every inch" of Syria. Since the Syrian regime military launched its offensive in Idlib in late April, more than 600 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Despite the Astana meeting between Turkey, Russia and Iran in May 2017 designating Idlib as a de-escalation zone, the regime consistently breaks the agreement with acts of aggression. The Sochi agreement was reached in September 2018 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. According to the agreement, the cease-fire in the Idlib region was to be preserved, with the withdrawal of heavy arms and radicals from the region and a demilitarized zone of 15 to 20 kilometers. Furthermore, despite the tragic number of deaths on Sunday, the attacks did not cease the following day either. Warplanes of the Assad regime and its supporter Russia, attacked the Idlib de-escalation zone yesterday morning.

Seven civilians were killed in the attacks, five in the Kefer Zita district of Hama and two in the village of Latmin, according to the White Helmets who lost one of their volunteers, Zuhair Al-Rajou.

Authorities are concerned that the number of deaths could rise as many were left wounded and under collapsed buildings destroyed by warplanes.

Various statements of the international community condemning the attacks do not seem to be deterring Russia or the Assad regime. According to the numbers published by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), over 25,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. "The Russian-led assault has not only left dozens of villages and towns in ruins but according to the U.N. has forced over 300,000 civilians to flee to the safety of areas closer to the Turkish border," The Moscow Times wrote last week.

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