US President Donald Trump on Thursday called for the governments in Moscow, Damascus and Tehran to stop the bloodshed that has displaced thousands in Syria’s rebel-held province of Idlib, AFP reported.
Heightened regime and Russian bombardment has hit the country’s last major opposition bastion since mid-December, as regime forces make advances on the ground despite an August ceasefire and United Nations calls for a de-escalation.
“Russia, Syria, and Iran are killing, or on their way to killing, thousands” of civilians in Idlib, Trump tweeted, adding, “Don’t do it!”
Nearly 80 civilians have been killed by air strikes and artillery attacks in the last two weeks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which estimates that more than 40,000 people have been displaced.
This is not the first time that the Syrian regime and its Russian allies have hit the Idlib region. Similar attacks took place last year, with Trump warning Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad at the time that "the world is watching".
Turkey earlier this week for the attacks to “come to an end immediately,” after sending a delegation to Moscow to discuss the flare-up.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara was pressing for a new ceasefire to replace the August agreement.
Trump praised Turkey’s efforts, tweeting that Ankara “is working hard to stop this carnage.”
Idlib is dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which overtook the region in July of 2017.
The head of the group has urged jihadists and allied rebels to head to the front lines and battle “the Russian occupiers” and the regime, noted AFP.
Their “ferocious” campaign “requires us to exert more effort,” HTS chief Abu Mohammed al-Jolani said Tuesday in a statement.
Last year, HTS shot down a Russian plane over Idlib, resulting in the death of the pilot.
Idlib, in northwestern Syria, hosts some three million people, including many displaced by years of violence in other parts of the country.
The Damascus regime, which now controls 70 percent of Syria, has repeatedly vowed to take back the area.
Backed by Moscow, Damascus launched a blistering offensive against Idlib in April, killing around 1,000 civilians and displacing more than 400,000 people.
Despite a ceasefire announced in August, the bombardment has continued, killing hundreds of civilians and fighters.