WED 19 - 6 - 2019
Jun 4, 2019
The Daily Star
Syria strikes northwest, ignores U.S. warning
MAARET AL-NUMAN, Syria: Bombardments by the Syrian regime killed six civilians in northwest Syria Monday, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump urged Damascus and its allies to “stop bombing the hell” out of the militant-held region. Trump’s call came after Israel carried out a series of strikes against Syria at the weekend, leaving at least 15 dead among pro-government forces, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The bombardment by Damascus and its ally Moscow of Idlib province and neighboring areas has killed more than 300 people since late April, according to the Observatory.
The Kremlin insisted Monday that the Russian army was only targeting “terrorists” in Syria’s Idlib region, which is controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Islamist militant group.
It accused them of firing at civilians and Moscow’s troops.
The comments came in response to a tweet by Trump Sunday calling for an end to the bombing on the militant-dominated enclave.
“Hearing word that Russia, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Iran, are bombing the hell out of Idlib Province in Syria, and indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians ... the World is watching this butchery. What is the purpose, what will it get you? STOP!” Trump said.
But the aerial bombardment Monday was unrelenting.
Analysts predict that President Bashar Assad and his allies will continue to chip away at the area, but not unleash a major assault that would create chaos on Turkey’s doorstep. In recent weeks, militants and pro-government have engaged in fierce battles over positions on the fringes of the enclave.
Clashes between militants and pro-government fighters Monday killed dozens of combatants in southern Idlib and parts of Latakia.
Meanwhile, Syrian troops captured the village Al-Qassabiyeh in Idlib, opposition activists and state media said.
The latest violence in Syria’s militant-held northwest comes amid soaring tensions between Syria and neighboring Israel.
Syria accused Israel of targeting an airbase in Homs province overnight, reportedly killing five people, just hours after carrying out raids on military and intelligence posts south of Damascus that killed 10.
“Our air defenses thwarted an Israeli aggression and destroyed two of the rockets that targeted the T-4 airbase,” a military source told state news agency SANA. The remaining rockets “killed one soldier, wounded two others, and damaged an arms warehouse,” the source added.
The Observatory reported five killed, including one Syrian soldier, adding that a rocket warehouse was destroyed.
In addition to the Syrian army, Iranian fighters and Hezbollah forces are also stationed at the airbase, according to the Observatory.
Israel did not claim the attack.
But hours earlier, Israel said it had carried out strikes in the province of Qunaitra.
It said that the attack was in response to rare rocket fire from its neighbor late Saturday.
The Observatory said 10 people were killed, including Syrian soldiers and foreign fighters.
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