On Tuesday, with Russian warplanes participating, Assad barrel bombs Idlib by dropping dozens of deadly explosive bombs on southern Idlib and northern Hama. The attacks came after a halt of six months when Russia and Turkey signed a de-escalation agreement.
Wikipedia describes a barrel bomb as an improvised unguided bomb. It is made from a large barrel-shaped metal container filled with high explosives, and stuffed with nails. Their poor accuracy and indiscriminate use exact a high toll on civilians.
According to eyewitnesses, Assad dropped 48 barrel bombs using the regime’s helicopters. The regime covered 16 different areas in both Hama and Idlib countryside. Russia and Turkey originally included these areas in their demilitarized zone.
In the countryside of northwestern Hama, anti-Assad factions associated with Sahl al-Ghab killed three Assad regime forces. Other allied foreign forces were in the vicinity and may have suffered casualties.
AQ INFILTRATED IDLIB
Last September, Putin and Erdogan signed the Astana Agreement, which protected a buffer zone to prevent an Assad assault offensive on Idlib. Factions from AQ affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham eventually infiltrated the safe zone.
The military escalation is the result of failed talks in Kazakhstan last week between Russia, Iran, and Turkey. All three have deliberately ignored the United States.
Many in the Idlib province believe the Assad barrel bombs are a prelude to an invasion as military reinforcements arrive on the borders of the Hama and Idlib provinces. Assad has been angling to conquer Idlib to consolidate his foothold in the province closest to his own stronghold on the Mediterranean.
Many believe Damascus and Tehran were instrumental in foiling the Astana talks. Both are itching to attack the last region of Syria still resistant to fall under the terror of Assad.
Some 3 million civilians have been hunkering in Idlib. As Assad barrel bombs Idlib, the death and displacement will rise to levels reminding us all of the Syrian tragedy befalling innocent women and children; as well as the European exodus that ensued.