The brutal and final Assad assault against Idlib is underway. Whatever remains of the Syrian army, in addition to Shia IRGC and Hezbollah terrorists, began their advance against the Sunni Islamist terrorists last major stronghold in Syria. Massive bombardments preceded it, which began late last month.
One report claims the rebels repulsed the assault; and another that the Assad troops advanced against the rebels. The fighting has centered around the villages of al-Janabara and Tel Othman. One Syrian opposition monitoring group said the government troops had seized Tel Othman.
Northwest Syria is the only significant territory still in rebel hands. The area Assad and Russia are targeting in the latest bombardment was the subject of a Russian-Turkish agreement last September to hold off a government offensive.
According to the Syrian opposition, incessant bombings killed 69 civilians since April 30. Air strikes and fighting killed at least 41 Islamists.
The dominant rebel force in the northwest said on Monday it would meet any government attempt to advance with “iron and fire”. The group, Tahrir al-Sham, includes al Qaeda’s former affiliate the Nusra Front.
Assad has recaptured many parts of the country from rebels since Russia joined the war on his side in 2015. Putin tested his newest air power in support of the army and allied Iran-backed militias on hospitals, schools, and markets.
A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER IS IN THE MAKING
The United Nations has said the northwestern Idlib region is home to 3 million people, half of whom have already fled their homes at least once during the conflict. A big battle there risks causing a new humanitarian disaster.
The U.S.-based Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) said on Monday.that Russian bombardments since April 28 have displaced more than 158,000 people.
A media spokesman for the Civil Defense organization, which conducts rescue operations in opposition-held areas of Syria, said the bombardment was non-stop.
Their spokesman said:
There is a first wave of barrel bombs dropped by helicopters. A few minutes later a jet will drop another wave of weapons hitting first responders. Then it’s followed by a wave of artillery,
Bombardments after midnight killed nine civilians with helicopters dropping barrel bombs. Barrel bombs are an invention of Iran just like the IED’s that killed hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Turkish-backed groups aided by the Turkish army hold part of Idlib northwestern enclave. Tahrir al-Sham dominates the rest, including the southern flank where fighting has focused this week.
The world is mostly silent ahead of a battle that may take the lives of thousands of civilians.
Reuters contributed to this article.