Nearly 80 pro-Turkish rebels killed in Syria in blamed Moscow strikes

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Nearly 80 Syrian rebels affiliated with Turkey were killed Monday in strikes attributed to Russia against their camp in Idlib in Syria; it is the deadliest escalation in this region in eight months.

In the complex war in Syria, Russia is helping Bashar Al-Assad's regime militarily, and Turkey is supporting rebel groups in Idlib province, the last major jihadist and rebel stronghold in the north-west of the country.

The two foreign powers have repeatedly negotiated precarious ceasefires for this area, and a truce has been held since March despite sporadic clashes in this region close to the Turkish border.

Airstrikes attributed to Russia by a rebel official and by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) targeted a training camp of Faylaq Al-Cham in the region of Jabal Al-Douayli in the north of Idlib province.

According to a latest report from this NGO, which has a vast network of sources in war-torn Syria, <q data-attributes = '{"lang": {"value": "fr", "label": "Français" }, "value": {"html": "78combatants "," text ":" 78combattants "}} 'lang =" fr”>78 fighters perished in the strikes and some 90 were injured.

The balance sheet could still be revised upwards, because some injured are in critical condition, said OSDH director Rami Abdel Rahmane.

This record is the heaviest since the entry into force of the truce in Idlib province, said Abdel Rahmane. Dozens of fighters were in the camp at the time of the strikes.

Seif Al-Raad, a spokesperson for the National Liberation Front, a coalition of rebel groups affiliated with Ankara including Faylaq Al-Cham, confirmed to AFP Russian strikes that dead and wounded.

He denounced the violations by the Moscow air force and by the forces of the truce regime with military positions, villages and localities targeted.

Idlib, the last bastion of the opposition

About half of the Idlib region is under the control of jihadists from Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (HTS), the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda also present in areas of adjacent territories in neighboring provinces of Latakia , Hama and Aleppo.

The truce adopted in March had stopped yet another offensive by the regime, which had succeeded in a few months in nibbling a little more of the territories beyond its control.

The offensive, marked by almost daily strikes by Syrian and Russian air forces, claimed the lives of at least 500 civilians, according to OSDH.

It had also displaced nearly a million inhabitants, mainly settled in informal camps on the border with Turkey. Among them, nearly 235,000 people have chosen to return, taking advantage of the truce, according to the UN.

The Idlib offensive was then the main front of the war in Syria, the regime, aided militarily by Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah, having succeeded in regaining control of more than 70% of the territory.

Triggered in 2011 by the repression of pro-democracy protests, the Syrian conflict has grown in complexity over the years with the involvement of foreign powers and jihadist groups.

The war killed more than 380,000 people and forced several million people to flee.

The peace negotiations between the regime and the opposition, conducted under the auspices of the UN, are today at a standstill.

UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem on Sunday in Damascus. He then said to hope find common ground on how to move the process forward policy aimed at ending the conflict.

The UN official continues meetings with the Syrian regime, but also with opposition figures and officials in Moscow or Ankara, without success so far.

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