Air strikes hit Idlib on day of Syria summit in Tehran | Pakistan Today

Air strikes hit Idlib on day of Syria summit in Tehran

BEIRUT: Air strikes hit parts of Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province on Friday, a war monitor said, as the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey met in Tehran to discuss the fate of the enclave.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes were targeting positions belonging to rebel groups in the northern Hama and southern Idlib provinces.

Around 3 million people live in the last major stronghold of active opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, which comprises most of Idlib province and adjacent small parts of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

Damascus, backed by allies Russia and Iran, has been preparing an assault to recover those rebel-held parts of the northwest, and resumed air strikes alongside Russia on Tuesday after weeks of lull.

On Friday thousands of people in the rebel-held area took to the streets after Friday midday prayers to protest any upcoming military action or evacuation plans, the Observatory and opposition news channel Orient News said.

The Britain-based Observatory said strikes on Friday had destroyed a building used by the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group near the town of al-Habeet resulting in a number of casualties.

Ahrar al-Sham is part of the Turkey-backed National Liberation Front alliance which formed earlier this year.

In addition to supporting rebels in Idlib, Turkey has also created a buffer zone along its border in an area north of Aleppo that adjoins Idlib, where it has set up a local administration alongside Syrian rebel groups.

Russia and Iran have said they want all militants to be pushed out of Idlib. The United Nations has warned that a military offensive in Idlib could cause a humanitarian catastrophe.

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