17 Days Remaining

Saturday 5th
posted by James Tweedie in World

AL-QAIDA-linked extremists launched an offensive on Syrian army positions in the north of Hama province yesterday, breaking a ceasefire that had held for more than a month.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Hetesh) attack north of the strategically important town of Ma’an broke the truce between the government and insurgents in Idlib province.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told a press conference in Moscow that a major ceasefire deal in Homs, which was announced on Thursday, would cover an area with a population of more than 147,000 people.

The ceasefire was negotiated in Cairo between Russia and what Gen Konashenkov described as the “moderate opposition.”

Last month Hetesh seized control of much of Idlib province and neighbouring areas from rival extremists Ahrar as-Sham in a major bout of rebel infighting.

Turkey briefly closed its border crossing with Idlib — a major route for arms and recruits to the insurgents — but reopened it within days.

Yesterday a bomb blast hit a Hetesh headquarters in Urum al-Kubra in the west of Aleppo, east of Idlib, reportedly killing at least two terrorists.

On Thursday insurgent negotiator Khaled Al-Mahamid claimed at the painstaking Geneva peace talks that Syrian troops would withdraw from the northern half of southern Daraa city — reportedly to be replaced by police.

Under a truce recently brokered by Russia, the US and neighbouring Jordan, militants will allow the Nassib border crossing to reopen and traffic to cross into government-held areas for the first time in two years.