Russian Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Turkish-Backed Rebels in Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Russian warfare planes struck a camp of Turkish-backed insurgent fighters in northwestern Syria on Monday, killing dozens of Syrian fighters in addition to civilians harvesting olives close by, based on a insurgent spokesman, within the bloodiest surge in violence since a cease-fire got here into impact seven months in the past.

The strike focused the group Faylaq al-Sham, whose base is close to a number of refugee camps within the closely populated province of Idlib. A number of million folks dwell within the province, a lot of them displaced from different components of Syria by the nation’s nine-year civil warfare.

Early reviews put the toll at 34 useless and 70 wounded, however the loss of life toll rapidly rose to 60 with information of civilians killed outdoors the camp. Video footage from the scene confirmed the our bodies of at the very least a dozen fighters wrapped in blankets on the ground of a clinic.

The fighters’ camp was at Kafr Takharim, close to the Turkish border. The assault was essentially the most violent breach of a cease-fire settlement that Russia and Turkey reached in March. Russia has often made smaller strikes on militant teams, however such a big strike so near the Turkish border is uncommon.

Russia mounted a brutal offensive with the Syrian government final winter to retake Idlib Province, the final insurgent enclave in Syria. Turkey intervened, deploying hundreds of its personal troops to assist the insurgent fighters on the bottom and shield civilians who began streaming towards the border.

The cease-fire has held since March, though Russia has repeatedly complained concerning the presence of insurgent teams.

Faylaq al-Sham is likely one of the extra reasonable Islamist teams fashioned in 2014 from a group of rebels preventing the Syrian authorities within the areas of Homs, Hama and Idlib as a part of the American-backed Free Syrian Military. After the USA ended its assist for the insurgent power in 2016, Turkey continued backing some Syrian insurgent teams, uniting them underneath the identify of the Nationwide Liberation Entrance.

Analysts have been fast to interpret the assault on Monday as a strike geared toward Turkey.

“Attacking the HQ of Faylaq al-Sham is nothing strange,” Omer Ozkizilcik, a researcher at SETA Basis within the Turkish capital, Ankara, said in a Twitter post. “Turkey pays all Turkey-backed rebels in Idlib by way of Faylaq. The group is answerable for defending the Turkish presence in Idlib and a necessary a part of the Turkish-Russian cease-fire settlement.”

Some linked the Russian airstrikes to Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan against Armenia, a Russian ally, in current preventing within the southern Caucasus. Turkey has proclaimed full assist for Azerbaijan, drawing accusations from Russia that it’s facilitating the deployment of Syrian fighters to the Caucasus.

Hwaida Saad reported from Beirut, and Carlotta Gall from Mingechevir, Azerbaijan.

Source link