After confirming reports it has struck in Idlib, Russia says it refrains from attacking residential areas; however, according to Syrian reports, 13 civilians are killed, with 6 of them being children; Turkish President Erdogan warns attack on Idlib would result in ‘massacre.’
New agencies, Ynet
The Russian defense ministry confirmed Wednesday that its fighter jets bombed the Idlib province on Tuesday, after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had said Tuesday Moscow had resumed air strikes on Syria’s last rebel-held stronghold after a 22-day break.
The defense ministry stressed that the strikes targeted merely rebel Jihadists and that Russia had refrained from attacking residential areas.
However, according to a Syrian report, 13 civilians were killed in the strikes, with six of them being children.
The Russian foreign ministry said on Wednesday that it was Russia’s duty to fight terrorists in Syria’s Idlib until their “complete and final liquidation”, and called on other countries to support that effort, not obstruct it.
In a statement, the ministry said its actions in Idlib province were in line with multilateral agreements aimed at stamping out violent militant groups.
“Russia considers it its duty to closely follow these agreements and will continue to destroy terrorists until their final and complete liquidation,” the ministry said in the statement.
Russia claims that four of its aircraft equipped with high precision-guided arms, struck Tahrir al-Sham (al-Qaeda-affiliated organization) targets.
The Syrian regime is also bombarding the rebel-held province.
In recent weeks, President Basahr Assad’s forces are approaching Idlib, planning an attack that could end the seven-year civil war.
Meanwhile, Russia is currently conducting a vast military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, which is expected to reach its highest point of intensity on Wednesday at 6 am until Thursday at 1 pm and is scheduled to end on Saturday.
The world is concerned a humanitarian disaster might occur. However, the Kremlin says that the drill aims to prepare for scenarios in which Russia may be forced to face with the US-led coalition operating in Syria.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov said that so far all of Russia’s military actions in Syria were executed with high precision to avoid harming civilians as much as possible.
“We, as we have said many times before, act precisely, selectively, trying to minimize possible risks to the peaceful population,” Ryabkov as explained.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan warned Wednesday that an attack on Syria’s Idlib—which borders with Turkey— would be a massacre and voiced concern that hundreds of refugees would flee to Turkey.
“The situation in Idlib is crucial for Turkey. A ruthless process has been going on there. … God forbid, if this area is hailed by missiles there would be a serious massacre,” Erdogan opined.
Turkey, that support some of Syria’s rebel groups, held several talks with Russian and American officials in an attempt to prevent Assad’s planned phased offensive to reclaim Idlib.
“Three and a half million people live there. In case of a disaster, God forbid, they will flee to Turkey,” Erdogan went on to say.
Turkey, Russia and Iran’s leaders will attend a three-way summit in Tehran on Sept. 7, which will address the civil war in Syria which is nearing to its end.
The UN Security Council is expected to convene Friday to discuss Idlib’s situation, while taking into account the possibility Assad will use chemical weapons to reclaim the rebel-held province, causing a humanitarian disaster.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would continue to fight against groups it sees as terrorists in Syria and that Idlib was a “nest of terrorism”.
UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura expressed fears of a “perfect storm” that could have a devastating impact on nearly 3 million people— nearly half of whom arrived from elsewhere in Syria—in the region largely controlled by al-Qaida-linked fighters.
US President Donald Trump on Monday warned Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies Iran and Russia not to “recklessly attack” Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, warning that hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.
“The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!” Trump wrote in a tweet.
The UN and other human rights organizations have warned that a military operation in Syria might cause one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes Syria had known during its seven-year civil war.
Tahrir al-Sham’s jihadists currently control more than half of Idlib. The rest of the province’s territory is mainly dominated by rebels supported by Turkey.
Assad’s regime took the reins over the small southeast part of the province.
The Syrian army bombarded Idlib today, while the rebels blew up another bridge in an attempt to thwart the upcoming attack.
פרסום ראשון: 09.05.18, 21:30