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etvfutures.com January 17, 2018


Syria: At least 23 killed in explosion during airstrikes in Idlib province

12 January 2018, 08:03 | Opal Carroll

Explosion reportedly kills at least 23 people

Syrian government escalates bombing campaign over last-remaining rebel strongholds

The Syrian army and its allies launched an offensive in October to recapture the provinces of Idlib and Hama, and it has since been making swift advances.

It said Israel was "primarily" assisting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a former al-Qaeda affiliate.

Meanwhile, SANA reported that rebel shelling of the capital killed five people and wounded 30 others on Tuesday.

Syrian and Russian aircraft pounded targets in the northwestern region of Idlib, pressing a week-old operation targeting the last province in the country to escape government control.

"Regime forces are hitting the moderate opposition with the excuse that they are fighting Nusra (Islamist militants)". The conflict has resulted in thousands of civilians being forced to flee toward the border with Turkey in freezing winter temperatures.

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While Ankara has toned down its criticism of Assad since it started cooperating with Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan last month called Assad a terrorist and said it was impossible for Syrian peace efforts to continue with him. "Entire villages have been displaced and abandoned".

Russian and Syrian government warplanes have supported the ground offensive with a barrage of airstrikes on rebel-held areas in southern Idlib in recent days. Their presence appears to have done little to limit the bombardment. This week, the group sought to close down college lectures involving students that had opposed its national salvation government.

The UN said that the women and children's hospital in Idlib, the largest-remaining rebel-held area, had been repeatedly taken out of service. "The regime also counted on the jammed-in residents of the rebel north-west, including its armed factions, to basically consume each other".

The siege on Idlib, a large province in northwestern Syria which is dominated by al-Qaeda-linked militants and a hub for civilians, was expected following the defeat of ISIS late a year ago.



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