The Syrian regime on Thursday announced the opening of a corridor to allow civilians wishing it to leave the Idleb region, where a military campaign by the Russian power and ally killed hundreds of people and led to an exodus of troops. population.
Supported by Russian aviation, Bashar al-Assad's regime has been bombarding the province of Idleb and neighboring areas in the north-west of the country at war, dominated by the jihadists of Hayat Tahrir al-Assad since the end of April. Cham (HTS) and sheltering rebel groups.
Nearly 900 civilians were killed in aerial bombardments and artillery on Idleb and adjacent areas at the hands of HTS and insurgents in neighboring provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Man (OSDH).
The announced "corridor" is intended for the inhabitants of a region composed of several villages, straddling the south of Idleb and north of Hama, which is besieged by the pro-regime after their progress in recent days.
Throughout its reconquest in recent years, the government has opened such "corridors" to allow civilians to leave rebel strongholds and rally government regions or in the hands of its opponents. However, fearing arrests, residents are generally reluctant to borrow them.
"The Syrian Republic announces the opening of a humanitarian corridor in the region of Surana, in northern Hama province, to allow citizens wishing to leave terrorist-controlled areas in northern Hama and the south Idleb, "Foreign Ministry reported in Damascus, quoted by the official SANA news agency.
- Tripartite Summit in Ankara -
The move came as Turkey, bordering Idleb province and supporting Syrian rebel groups, announced a summit on September 16 in Ankara between the Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents to talk about Syria.
It also takes place in the aftermath of the regime's recapture of Khan Cheikhoun, a southern Idleb town abandoned by jihadists and rebels in the face of the advance of government forces.
The region now besieged by the regime also includes the localities of Morek, where there is a Turkish military observation post, and Kafr Zita, both in the province of Hama.
Ankara has several military observation posts in Idleb and Hama provinces.
It is difficult right now to say whether civilians will take the corridor. And the region concerned is already almost empty of its inhabitants according to the OSDH.
Since late April, more than 400,000 displaced people have fled violence in southern Idleb and northern Hama according to the UN.
"We are receiving information on major movements in the northwest," confirmed David Swanson, UN spokesman for Syria, AFP.
After Khan Sheikhoun, the goal of the regime seems to be the city of Maaret al-Noomane, also in southern Idleb, according to the OSDH.
On Thursday, regime and Russian air raids targeted areas in the vicinity, the NGO said.
- "Ghost Villages" -
The cities of Khan Cheikhoun and Maaret al-Noomane are located on a strategic highway that connects the capital Damascus to Aleppo (north), two cities in the hands of the regime.
In the vicinity of Maaret al-Noomane, located north of Khan Cheikhoun, "most villages have been emptied of their inhabitants," told AFP Abu Hussein, a resident who fled for two days Maaret al-Noomane .
"These are ghost villages, there is no life left, just planes bombing," he said. However, there are still few people who "put their lives in danger to protect their homes".
Triggered in 2011 after the repression by the regime of pro-democracy demonstrations, the war in Syria, which has become more complex with the involvement of several regional and international actors, has claimed more than 370,000 lives and displaced millions of people.
Since September 2015 and the military intervention of Moscow in the conflict, the Assad regime, already helped by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah, has multiplied the victories against the rebels and jihadists, taking control of nearly 60% of the Syrian territory .
In addition to the jihadist and rebel-controlled territories in and around the Idleb region, vast swathes of Syria still elude it in the east of the country, where Syrian Kurdish forces backed by Washington control much of the region.
© 2019 AFP