Three killed in Syrian regime attack on Turkish observation posts in Idlib

Three civilians, including one child, were killed in an attack by Syrian government forces in northwestern Idlib province amid intensified attacks by the regime that also target Turkish observation posts, London-based pan-Arab Al Araby reported on Tuesday. 

Over 20 towns and villages were targeted in the shelling on Monday, it said, leading to the death of two people in the villages of Balyun and Sunbul. 

One child was killed on Tuesday, when the regimebombed a house in the village of Iblin in Jabal Al-Zawiya, it said, citing activist Bilal Bayyoush.

Turkish observation posts were also targeted in the attacks, according to Syrian activist Mohammed Al-Daher near the frontline with rebels, with Russian-made Smerch rockets.

Turkey has deployed substantial military forces in Idlib since late 2017 as part of the tripartite Astana process with Russia and Iran. The country has 12 observation posts in the province, built according to another 2018 agreement made with Russia to establish a demilitarised zone in the province.

Over the past week, Turkey has sent reinforcements to northwest Syria amid renewed regime shelling of opposition-held areas.

The country also controls the most important transit routes for humanitarian assistance and trade with the parts of Idlib controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an umbrella jihadist group known to have incorporated fighters from al Nusra Front.

“We have become used to Russian military escalation before every round of Astana [talks], as part of Russian pressure on Turkey for concessions on the Syrian issue. Today the shelling began to target the Turkish observation posts in southern Idlib province,” Al Araby cited Colonel Mustafa Bakkour, a spokesman for the Jaysh Al-Izza rebel group, as saying.

The next round of the Astana talks are set to take place at the end of June, according to an announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Middle East and North Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov.