Air strikes kill nine in Syria’s rebel-held territory

Published November 18, 2019
AL BAB (Syria): Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against Turkish presence in this town in northern Syria on Sunday.—AFP
AL BAB (Syria): Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against Turkish presence in this town in northern Syria on Sunday.—AFP

BEIRUT: Air strikes on rebel-held areas in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib killed at least nine people on Sunday, an opposition war monitor and a paramedic group said.

Syrian troops launched a four-month offensive earlier this year against the country’s last opposition stronghold, which is dominated by Al Qaeda-linked militants. The government offensive forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes. A fragile ceasefire halted the advance at the end of August, but in recent weeks it has been repeatedly violated.

Last week, Syrian President Bashar Assad said his forces will soon retake Idlib. In an interview with a Russian TV station, Assad said that they are now giving civilians some time to leave the area.

The Syrian Civil Defence said five people, including three women, were killed in the village of Mallaja while four others were killed in air strikes on the northern outskirts of the town of Saraqeb, a major town on the highway linking the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, Syrias largest.

The highway has been closed since 2012, when rebels captured several towns on it. Reopening the highway was the main aim of the government offensive that began April 30.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said six people were killed in Mallaja. It added that six other people were killed in the province, including two fighters.

In an area controlled by Turkey in the neighboring province of Aleppo, opposition activists said Turkey-backed fighters opened fire on a group of protesters who were demanding a suspected car bomber be executed.

The Observatory said the protesters tried to storm a police station in the town of al-Bab, and that one protester was killed. The protesters were reportedly calling for authorities to execute a man detained on suspicion of setting off a car bomb in al-Bab on Saturday. That blast killed 19 people.

Turkey’s Defence Ministry said the suspect detained in connection to Saturday’s bombing was a member of the main Kurdish militia, according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.

Several explosions have hit Turkey-controlled parts of northern Syria over the past month, killing and wounding scores of people. That’s since Turkey began a military operation into northeastern Syria against Kurdish fighters, following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria.

The Turkish invasion has aimed at pushing Kurdish fighters away from the border. Those Kurdish fighters had been key US allies in the fight against the militant Islamic State group.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters terrorists linked to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

Turkey-backed opposition fighters had previously taken control of parts of Aleppo province, including the towns of al-Bab and Afrin, in military offensives in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2019

Opinion

Time to wake up

Time to wake up

The criticism reflects our failure to counter rising religious intolerance and bigotry, and also exposes a diplomatic debacle.
Which nationalism?
Updated 05 May 2021

Which nationalism?

After decades of apparent self-sufficiency, India has again begun to ask for and receive vaccines and other necessary material.
The TLP and elections
Updated 04 May 2021

The TLP and elections

Pakistan has always made space for Islamist parties electorally; they have rarely been successful enough to be a national force.

Editorial

05 May 2021

Path of growth

FINANCE MINISTER Shaukat Tarin finally specified the future direction that the country’s economic policy will take...
05 May 2021

Human rights 2020

THE human rights situation in Pakistan, almost predictably bleak every year, was deeply impacted in 2020 by an...
Unreasonable behaviour
Updated 05 May 2021

Unreasonable behaviour

Usman Buzdar should reprimand Dr Awan for her coarse behaviour and make sure she tenders a public apology.
Electoral reforms
Updated 04 May 2021

Electoral reforms

A rigging-proof system, which cannot be manipulated through technical delays, is possible if stakeholders sit together.
04 May 2021

Unmet tax targets

THE FBR has increased its tax collection by 14pc to Rs3.8tr this year during the 10-month period from July to April...
04 May 2021

Routine immunisation

AS countries around the world grapple with the deadly third wave of Covid-19 and we witness the horrific devastation...