Two IED (improvised explosive devices) blasts in the western countryside of Aleppo and the northern countryside of Idlib on the evening of December 6th prove violence is still unravelling the rebel-held enclave, a war monitor’s report said on December 7th. The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said the sound of the two explosions was a result of two IED-laden car bombs which detonated separately in Idlib’s Atarib area and in Maarrat Al-Nu’manin city. At least 2 children were injured in the attacks, with some conflicting reports claiming that the explosions were caused by a hand grenade. Another two young men were killed in a drive-by shooting by unidentified gunmen, the Observatory’s report added.
Overlooking ongoing violence, Turkey, which backs the Syrian rebels in Idlib, claimed that the ceasefire deal it brokered in September with Russia, a regime ally, prevented an all-out Syrian assault on Idlib and averted a humanitarian crisis. According to the deal, Turkey acts as a guarantor for “radical-minded” groups withdrawing from a 15-to-20km-long demilitarised buffer zone around the Idlib enclave and heavy weapons held by Syrian rebels would be handed over by October 20th. Russian and Turkish forces would patrol the buffer zone, the agreement stated.
However, since the deadline passed, the Russians have been complaining that the Turkey-backed militant groups are still in the demilitarised zone and in violation of the arrangement. Further undermining an already fragile agreement, Ankara accuses the Russian-backed Syrian regime of trying to provoke an escalation in Idlib.
As reported by the Observatory, Idlib radicals with “experienced cells” practise frequent kidnapping, theft and murder, adding that 404 deaths have been reported in the countryside of Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama, since April 26th.