Turkish-backed fighters shell Syrian gov't positions in Idlib

Turkish-backed fighters fired several missiles and artillery rockets at government posts in northwest Syria’s last rebel held enclave of Idlib on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

The shelling was in retaliation for a deadly Russian airstrike that killed dozens of their fighters a day earlier, according to the SOHR.

The Turkey-backed groups, operating under the umbrella of the National Liberation Front, fired hundreds of artillery rounds and missiles since late Monday at government posts in territories adjacent to areas they control in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

Russian air strikes killed 78 Turkey-backed rebels in Idlib on Monday, an opposition war monitor reported, undermining an already shaky cease-fire in place since March that aimed to quell military operations and government troop advances in the overcrowded rebel enclave.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brokered a ceasefire agreement on March 5 to end the fighting in Idlib between Turkish-allied armed groups and the Syrian military, which is backed by Russia.

The deal stipulated the establishment of a security corridor stretching around 6 kilometres north and south of the strategically vital M4 highway, which connects Latakia and Saraqib.

As part of the agreement, Turkish and Russian military units have conducted joint patrols along the highway to buffer between pro-Damascus forces and rebel and Islamist militias.

The ceasefire has largely held, despite some intermittent bombardment in the area from both sides.