Beirut (AFP)

The Syrian regime has stopped air strikes Saturday on the Idleb region, the first day of a truce announced after four months of devastating bombing of this region of the northwest of the country at war, said an NGO.

This truce was announced the day before by Russia, the ally of the Syrian President of Bashar al-Assad that it helps in the conflict, particularly in its offensive against the jihadists and the rebels in the region of Idleb (north-west ), which has killed more than 950 civilians since the end of April.

A previous truce decreed early August in the same region has shattered after a few days, the regime having resumed its raids after accusing his opponents of not respect it.

"There are no fighter planes in the sky and air strikes ceased" on Saturday after the unilateral truce came into effect around 06:00 local time (0300 GMT), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Man (OSDH).

The fighting has also stopped and only sporadic artillery fire is being heard near the town of Maarat al-Noomane, in southern Idleb province, bordering Turkey, the NGO said.

In the wake of the truce, Ahmed Ibrahim returned home to the village of Maar Shourine near Maaret al-Noomane, but just to pick up some things.

"The regime, as usual, will violate the ceasefire and will not keep its promise," said the Syrian AFP who fled 15 days ago to a region further north.

- "Humanitarian Nightmares" -

In Damascus, the official Sana news agency reported that the Syrian army had agreed to respect the cessation of hostilities but "reserved the right to react to violations".

On Friday, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria said an agreement was reached for "a unilateral ceasefire by government forces" and called on "armed groups to give up provocations".

At the end of April, the Assad Assisted Moscow regime launched air and artillery bombardments against Idleb Province and adjoining areas in the neighboring provinces of Hama, Latakia and Aleppo, dominated by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham's jihadists. (HTS, former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and where rebel groups are also present.

On August 8, he began a ground offensive taking over many areas, including the strategic city of Khan Cheikhoun in southern Idleb and the entire province of Hama.

The new truce appears to be a new effort to avoid what the UN has described as one of the worst "humanitarian nightmares" of the conflict.

Since late April, Syrian and Russian bombings have killed more than 950 civilians in the Idleb region according to the OSDH and more than 400,000 people have been displaced according to the UN.

- "Political Process" -

The attacks on "innocent Syrians in Idleb must stop immediately so that the humanitarian crisis can end and the political process progress," US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo said Friday after a meeting with the UN envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen.

A few hours before the new truce came into effect, the OSDH reported a Russian air strike against a health facility in Aleppo province, which injured staff members.

According to the UN, 43 health facilities have been affected since April.

The entire Idleb region, home to some 3 million people, was supposed to be protected by an agreement on a "demilitarized zone" announced in 2018 by Turkey, an ally of rebel groups, and Russia for to separate government areas from territories in the hands of jihadists and insurgents. But this agreement was not respected and did not prevent the offensive.

The Assad regime, which has taken over 60% of the territory with military aid from Moscow but also from Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, has pledged to recover the rest of the territory, including Idleb. Large areas in the hands of Kurdish forces in eastern Syria are also beyond the control of the regime.

Triggered in 2011 after the suppression of pro-democracy protests, the war became more complex with the involvement of foreign actors and jihadist groups. It has killed more than 370,000 people, driven millions to flee and devastated the country.

© 2019 AFP