Security

First Russian strikes in 3 months hit north-west Syria

By AFP

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A picture taken March 5th shows an explosion following Russian airstrikes on the village of al-Bara in the southern part of Idlib province. [Omar Haj Kadour/AFP]

Russian airstrikes have hit Syria's last opposition stronghold for the first time since a March ceasefire came into force, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday (June 3rd).

The Russian strikes on Tuesday evening and at dawn on Wednesday hit an area of the north-west where the boundaries of Hama, Idlib and Latakia provinces meet, the Observatory said.

Tahrir al-Sham and its hardline allies have a significant presence in the area.

The Observatory said the latest strikes were intended to push extremists away from the key M4 highway in northern Syria, where Turkish and Russian forces often conduct joint patrols as part of the truce agreement.

They also were intended to push Tahrir al-Sham and its allies further away from the Sahl al-Ghab area in the north of Hama province, where Syrian regime and Russian forces are present, it added.

The airstrikes triggered a fresh wave of displacement from Sahl al-Ghab and the Jabal al-Zawiya district of neighbouring Idlib, the Observatory added.

Nearly half of the three million people living in the Idlib region have been displaced from other parts of Syria recaptured by the regime.

After holding barely a fifth of the country five years ago, Russian intervention has helped the regime reclaim control of more than 70% of Syria.

In the north-west, Tahrir al-Sham and its allies control around half of Idlib province and slivers of territory in the neighbouring provinces of Hama, Latakia and Aleppo.

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