‘Fiercest’ shellfire yet around Syria truce zone: Monitor

‘Fiercest’ shellfire yet around Syria truce zone: Monitor

BEIRUT
‘Fiercest’ shellfire yet around Syria truce zone: Monitor

Rebels and jihadists traded fire with government forces in northern Syria overnight, their “fiercest” exchanges since a buffer zone deal was announced for the area last month, a monitor said on Oct. 25.

A 15- to 20-kilometer wide “de-militarized zone” was announced by Turkey and Russia on Sept. 17 to separate government troops from rebels in their last major bastion in Idlib province and adjacent areas.

Shelling continued intermittently, however, and escalated dramatically late on Oct. 24, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“It was the fiercest bombing yet since September 17,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based monitoring group.

Syrian government rocket and artillery fire killed one girl in Kafr Hamra,” an Aleppo province town inside the declared buffer zone.

Rebel shelling from inside the zone killed three civilians in government-held territory earlier this week.

Late on Oct. 24, rocket fire by both jihadists and Turkish-backed rebels hit second city Aleppo, wounding 10 people, Abdel Rahman said.

State news agency SANA gave the same casualty toll and said the army responded against the sources of the fire north and northwest of the city.

The National Liberation Front said it was responding to government violations of the truce deal with “light and medium weapons.”

Under the deal agreed by Russia and Turkey, the rebels were supposed to have removed all heavy weapons from the buffer zone by Oct. 10.

“Radical” fighters - taken to mean Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the jihadist alliance which is the dominant faction in Idlib, and other hardliners - were supposed to leave the zone by October 15.

But 10 days on there is still no sign of any pullout or of the planned monitoring patrols by the deal’s co-sponsors, the Observatory said.

Syrian Civil War, Idlib, Sochi agreement, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham