Syrian Army Targeting Civilian Infrastructure in Idlib Onslaught
Syrian forces are reportedly bombing civilian targets in Idlib Province amidst an increasingly deadly campaign to retake the war-torn country’s last major rebel-held bastion. According to the United Nations, more than 300 civilians have been killed in the offensive since December. Nonmilitary infrastructure such as educational and medical facilities, including Idlib Central Hospital, have reportedly been targeted in towns and villages controlled primarily by Turkish-backed Islamists. Shelters for the homeless have also come under fire, thereby accelerating the forced exodus of nearly 1 million people. In response, numerous rights groups are warning of a possible humanitarian catastrophe on a level not seen since the 2011 outbreak of a civil war that has killed well over 500,000 people. Despite mounting international calls to end the Idlib assault, Russia, which is providing pro-Assad regime forces with air support, this week rejected the notion of a cease-fire, citing the need to not “capitulate to terrorists.” A delegation of Russian officials arrived in Ankara on Wednesday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan floated the possibility of holding another one-on-one meeting with his counterpart in Moscow. Vladimir Putin became the major power broker in Syria after Russia intervened in the conflict militarily in September 2015.