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Syrian regime launches deadly assault on rebel truce zone Open in fullscreen

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Syrian regime launches deadly assault on rebel truce zone

Syrian regime troops in Daraa province [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 November, 2018

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At least 22 rebels were killed overnight near Idlib province in what was the deadliest single incident since a Moscow-brokered truce in September.

Syrian regime forces killed 22 rebels on Thursday night near Idlib province, the last rebel-held region in Syria and which is subject to a recent truce.

Fighting erupted when regime troops seized a position in a rural area in the north of neighbouring Hama province that had been held by the Jaish al-Izza group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday.

In recent months, Russian-backed Syrian regime forces have retaken much of the territory it had lost since the war began in 2011.

The regime had threatened an assault on Idlib, home to around three million people, with around half of those refugees who fled other parts of Syria following previous regime assaults.

UN officials had warned that an offensive there would uproot 800,000 people and spark the 21st century's worst catastrophe, but a deal for a de-militarised buffer zone around Idlib was struck in September between Moscow and rebel backer Ankara. 

Several deadly skirmishes have occurred since the September deal but 22 is the highest number of known fatalities in a single incident inside the planned buffer zone, the Observatory said.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

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