Assad flouts Syria ceasefire with new assault on Idlib rebels

SYRIA-DAMASCUS-UN-HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL-VISIT

Russia-backed government forces on Wednesday battled their way into the Abu Duhur military airport as they pressed a weeks-long battle in the last province beyond their control.

In the event, at least one rebel group - this being Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) - has chose to re-militarize the Al-Hass area and to this end, the last twelve hours has witnessed the jihadist faction flood southwest Aleppo with reinforcements.

Sixteen jihadists and rebels were killed in the counter-attack as they sought to cut off regime forces at the airport from their rear bases, the Britain-based war monitor said.

"Since 31 December, at least 85 civilians, including 21 women and 30 children, have been killed and at least 183 injured in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, according to information gathered by the UN Human Rights Office", UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, said in a statement.

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Since losing the airbase in 2015 following a two-year jihadist siege, the Syrian government has only had control of two villages in Idlib province: Fua and Kafraya. The attack also aims to secure the road liking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest.

Almost 100,000 people have been displaced since early December by fighting in northwestern Syria, where the regime is waging an offensive against jihadis, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

"How can you not discriminate between civilians and terror groups in a place where millions of people have been living?" he asked.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

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