BEIRUT, MOSCOW: A spike in violence in and around an opposition bastion in northwest Syria has killed 948 people in a month, almost a third of them civilians.
A September deal was supposed to avert a full-out regime offensive on Idlib province and adjacent areas held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.
But the regime and its Russian ally have since late April ramped up deadly airstrikes and rocket fire on the opposition stronghold, and fighters have clashed on its edges.
Since April 30, regime and Russian fire has killed 288 civilians including 67 children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Jihadist rocket fire has killed a further 22 civilians including 10 children in regime-held territory, the Britain-based monitoring group said.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said on Friday it was Turkey’s responsibility to stop rebels in Idlib from firing on civilian and Russian targets, signalling it would continue to back a Syrian regime offensive there despite Ankara’s protests.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin late on Thursday that he wanted a cease-fire in Idlib to prevent more civilian deaths and a refugee influx to Turkey.
Erdogan also told Putin by phone that Syria needed a political solution, Erdogan’s office said in a statement.
“We really do need a cease-fire in Idlib and what needs to be achieved is for the terrorists to stop firing on civilian targets and on certain facilities where our troops are located,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “…This is the responsibility of the Turkish side.”