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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.
Russian and Syrian forces intensified air strikes and ground shelling in northwestern Syria overnight in one of the heaviest assaults on the last rebel bastion in recent months, opposition members, rescuers and residents said on Thursday.
The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran will discuss the difficult situation in Syria’s Idlib province when they meet in Ankara early next week for a summit, Yuri Ushakov, a senior Kremlin aide, said on Friday.
Syrian opposition activists say airstrikes targeting the country’s last major rebel stronghold, the northwestern province of Idlib, have killed three civilians, including
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