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Syrian militants in counteroffensive in Idlib

12 January 2018

Syria's state media say government forces and their allies are approaching a sprawling rebel-held air base in the northwestern province of Idlib from different directions.

One major factor behind escalating tension between the three partners, which were able to successfully decrease (in relative terms) tensions through the Astana talks, was the Syrian army's operation to take back the military airport of Abu Duhour, which is southeast of Idlib.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops were engaged in fierce fighting with al-Qaida-linked militants and other insurgents just outside Abu Zuhour. Following the regime's assaults, tens of thousands of people fled the province.

Idlib is the largest remaining territory in rebel hands, and its population is swollen with more than 1.1 million refugees who have fled fighting from other areas in Syria, according to the United Nations.

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On Wednesday, more than two dozen people were killed in the government bombardment of eastern Ghouta and rebel shelling of the capital itself.

In May previous year, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed an agreement to set up de-escalation centres in Syria.

The Observatory on Monday said 27 civilians were killed in the attack, including 14 children.

Russian and Iranian Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Javad Zarif have reportedly spoken about the developments of these developments, which have caused chilling winds to blow ahead of a key meeting between government and opposition factions in the Syrian civil war in the Russian Black Sea coastal town of Sochi on January 29-30. The woman was so frightened, she initially left one of her children behind. "The fear affected our brains", said the mother, quoted by the IRC.

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The IRC said almost two thirds of the displaced in Idlib are living in makeshift tents that are unable to withstand winter conditions while others live in abandoned or partially-build homes that have well water but no toilets.

Armed opposition groups holed up in Eastern Ghouta had also continued to fire rockets into residential areas of Damascus, which he said caused terror among the population. The Observatory says 159 rebels and government soldiers have been killed in fighting over the base since December 29. Despite it all, some civilians are determined to stay in their country.

Meanwhile, the United Nations official said he had detailed and open discussions with the Syrian government about the crisis and what more needs to be done to reduce the humanitarian suffering. The U.S. Treasury Department says its sanctions against the Syrian government are in response to human rights abuses and state-sponsored terrorism.

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Syrian militants in counteroffensive in Idlib