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Syrian regime attacks Idlib in violation of Sochi deal

January 1, 2019 at 7:48 am

Two killed, six others wounded in camp for displaced people, says Idlib director of White Helmets [File Photo, Muaz Yemen/Anadolu Agency]

Syrian regime forces and Iran-backed terror groups intensified their attacks in Idlib province’s de-escalation zone Monday despite a ceasefire agreement, according to a civil defence official.

“Assad regime forces have intensified airstrikes on Idlib and Homs on civilian settlements since the evening,” Mustafa Hajj Youssef, director of the White Helmets civil defence agency in Idlib, told Anadolu Agency.

Two civilians were killed and six others were wounded in a camp for displaced people, Youssef said.

Following a meeting on 17 September 2018 in the Russian city of Sochi between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two sides agreed to set up a demilitarized zone – in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited – in Syria’s Idlib province.

According to the terms of the deal, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present while Russia and Turkey will conduct joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing a resumption of fighting.

On 10 October, the Turkish Defence Ministry announced that the Syrian opposition and other anti-regime groups had completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the demilitarized zone.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.