Lavrov’s statements do not reflect Idlib’s field reality
“We believe that relative calm has been established in Syria, and we must work to consolidate this trend.” This statement was made by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, following his talks with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, on 7 September.
In a press conference with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Muallem, after meeting al-Assad, Lavrov considered that Idlib is one of the most important areas of cooperation between Russia and Turkey.
According to Lavrov, this cooperation in Idlib helps “separate moderate opposition from “extremists” and secure the international highway (M4) that links between Aleppo and Lattakia, despite the slowness in the implementation of the Turkish-Russian ceasefire agreement.
The Russian Foreign Minister added, “I am sure that the agreement will be successfully implemented.”
Nevertheless, northwestern Syria’s field situation is not in line with Lavrov’s statement, as the bombing has not stopped after the “Moscow” ceasefire agreement that came into force on 6 March.
The attacks were not limited to artillery shelling or rocket launchers, as the military aircraft carried out several airstrikes in Idlib province, especially in its western countryside.
On 11 September, the Russian “Reconciliation” Center operating in Syria, accused the “Hay’ at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS),” one of the largest military forces in the opposition controlled-areas, of preparing toxic materials as provocations south of the de-escalation zone, according to Sputnik, a Russian state-controlled news agency.
These Russian statements did not come as new news to the Syrians in the opposition’s areas, as they used to hear them for years; however, they coincided with land battles launched by the regime and Russia on the opposition regions.
Daily bombing and an advancement attempt
On the day that Lavrov came out with these statements, on 7 September, the Syrian regime’s artillery was bombing the civilians’ houses in Ariha city, south of Idlib.
On the same day, a civilian was killed and six others wounded, including a child and a woman, while the city’s “Syrian Civil Defense” center was targeted.
The Syrian Response Coordination Group (SRCG) documented, on the very day, the targeting of the regime for 14 points in Ariha by artillery shells.
Meanwhile, the Syrian regime’s forces continue their daily bombardment of villages and towns such as Nasfara, Deir Sunbul, Sfohen, Felfel, al-Fatirah, al-Barra in the southern Idlib countryside, and the al-Kabineh hills in Lattakia’s countryside, since 8 September, a day after Lavrov’s statements.
On 9 September, Russian warplanes carried out seven airstrikes in Idlib province, five of which were aimed at the west of the province, while one airstrike targeted Jisr al-Shughur and another hit the al-Kabineh hills.
While On 11 September, the military aircraft performed airstrikes on the village of al-Sheikh Yusuf, western Idlib, in which the “Syrian Civil Defense” teams were affected by the aerial bombardment.
According to the “Syrian Civil Defense,” three volunteers were wounded after being targeted by the regime’s artillery while they were extinguishing a fire in Kafr Oweid village as a result of the regime’s shelling.
On 5 of last March, Idlib province became subject to the “Moscow” ceasefire agreement signed between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, which provided for the creation of a “security corridor” on the international highway “M4.”
The agreement included joint Russian-Turkish patrols between Trinbeh village, west of Saraqib city (east of Idlib), and Ain al-Hawr village in western rural Idlib. It also stated that the southern areas of the international highway (M4) connecting between Lattakia and Aleppo of the “security corridor” would be under Russia’s supervision, while its north under Turkey’s supervision.
However, the SRCG documented 2,387 ceasefire violations by the Syrian regime and Russia, since the signing of the agreement until 18 August.
These violations included targeting the opposition areas by artillery and missile bombs, drones, and Russian warplanes in several areas of Idlib, Hama, and Aleppo.
The surroundings of Harbanoush town and the heights surrounding the al-Sheikh Bahar area in northwestern Idlib were subjected to more than ten Russian air raids on 18 August.
While on 3 August, three civilians from one family were killed, and seven others were injured in Russian airstrikes on Binnish in Idlib.
According to the SRCG, 18 civilians, including five children, have been killed by regime shelling of opposition areas since the signing of the agreement until the beginning of July.
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