First Russian strikes in 3 months hit northwest Syria - GulfToday

First Russian air strikes in 3 months hit northwest Syria


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Russian air strikes have hit Syria's last major rebel bastion for the first time since a March ceasefire came into force, a war monitor said on Wednesday.

The Russian strikes on Tuesday night and at dawn on Wednesday hit an area of the northwest where the boundaries of Hama, Idlib and Latakia provinces meet, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Hayat Tahrir Al Sham alliance, led by Syria's former Al Qaeda affiliate, and its hardline allies enjoy a significant presence in the area, the Britain-based monitoring group added.


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The activists said the strikes on and near Idlib province were the first to be conducted by Russian planes since a truce brought relative calm to the volatile region in early March.

The truce, brokered by Turkey and Russia, halted a terrifying three-month air and ground campaign that had killed hundreds and sent 1 million people fleeing toward the Turkish border.

Russia is a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces while Turkey supports the opposition. In recent years, Moscow and Ankara have become the main power-brokers in Syria, shattered by a civil war since 2011.

Opposition activists said that in recent days, both Turkey and the government in Damascus have been sending reinforcements to northwestern Syria. There have also been repeated violations of the truce on the ground in recent weeks.


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