After an eight-day hiatus, Bashar Assad forces resumed artillery and mortar strikes in northwestern Syria's Idlib late Sunday, pounding civilian areas in the outskirts of province. According to information obtained by Anadolu Agency (AA) from the White Helmets civil defense volunteers, one civilian was killed and three others were wounded in the strikes. The attacks were focused around the town of Kafranbel and several other villages in Idlib. The strikes were the first since Aug. 31. Despite eight months of relative calm provided by the Sochi deal, the regime, backed by Moscow, intensified attacks as of April 26, under the pretext of fighting the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorists holed up in Idlib. Since then, the situation has only gotten worse, taking more civilian lives with each passing day.
Already hosting more than 4 million Syrian refugees, Turkey warned the international community and regional countries that a new offensive could trigger a fresh refugee wave toward the West. Humanitarian organizations also called on international community to prevent a new offensive, which will possibly aggravate the already dire humanitarian situation in the war-torn province. Bülent Yıldırım, the chairman of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), a Turkish NGO, said yesterday that nearly 200,000 people were displaced and were moving towards the Turkish border after the recent attacks in Idlib. "They have no place to live. In some tents, four or five families live together," Yıldırım told AA. The southern parts of Idlib and northern Hama have been devastated by nonstop attacks by the Bashar Assad regime and Russia. According to the U.N., more than 1,000 civilians were killed in and around Idlib in the last four months.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discussed the Syrian constitutional committee with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov yesterday, according to diplomatic sources. Speaking over the phone, the two top diplomats also discussed the Idlib and Astana meeting.
Çavuşoğlu conducted another phone call with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday regarding the same topics.