Syria: Has the new offensive on Idlib, after Aleppo, already started?

Syria: Has the new offensive on Idlib already started? UN haven't been able to stop the Assad-Russian offensive on Aleppo since its very beginning, and will not be able to convince them to stop it as their victory became close

As Assad regime and its allies became close than ever to forcing their control over Aleppo again, their eyes seem to be already on Idlib province which is the second most rebel stronghold in Syria. The latest massacre by Assad regime in Idlib killed at least 73 civilians, after months of similar deadly events.

At least 73 people have been killed in suspected Russian air strikes on several areas of Idlib province in northwest Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based monitor said on Sunday at least three locations were bombed in the northwestern province and most of the casualties were civilians.

At least 26 people, including three children, were killed in the town of Kafr Nabl, and another 38 people were killed in the town of Maarat al-Numan.

A witness told AFP news agency “six strikes hit houses and a crowded local market” in the village of Kafr Nabl.

In Maarat al-Numan, an AFP photographer saw local residents and White Helmets rescue workers trying to reach survivors in the rubble at a vegetable market hit in the strike.

The monitor also reported two additional deaths, one in an earlier strike on Maarat al-Numan and another in al-Naqir, also in Idlib.

And it said six civilians, five of them children, had been killed in a government barrel bomb attack on the town of al-Tamanah in the south of Idlib.

Idlib, the next aim after Aleppo

By the summer of 2015, President Assad seemed on the verge of being overthrown. Then Russia launched its military intervention – all the while paying lip service to a diplomatic process the US administration pursued to no avail.

The Russian intervention tilted the war in favor of Assad regime and cost the rebels many of their strongholds, making Aleppo and Idlib among the last important pressure point on Assad regime to accept a political solution to end the war.

The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo and Idlib since the start of this year.

Many ceasefire agreements accompanied by peace talks meetings were organized to help find a solution to the crisis, but Assad regime breached every ceasefire and hindered every peace talks meeting without any pressure moves or real steps from the western powers.

The regime’s forces’ persistent and the intensive airstrikes forced the rebels to leave the areas they hold.

In just over a week, the rebels have lost most of the northern neighborhoods in besieged east Aleppo.

After Aleppo, Idlib will be the next aim, and Assad regime has already started to prepare for the battle with daily bombing and massacres since months. The number of deaths rose sharply in October.

Idlib province is witnessing massacres and random killing by regime and Russian warplanes and Helicopters using missiles, barrel bombs and heavy machine guns, the heavy bombardment started in the 20th of October leading to massive raise in the dead numbers, according to the observatory.

SOHR documented the death of 288 civilians including 93 children and 55 women in the period between 22nd of October until today, by aerial bombardment by Russian and Syrian warplanes, while 1000 others were wounded and seriously wounded or permanently wounded, in addition to massive material damages.

In November, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russian forces had begun a “major operation” targeting Idlib and Homs provinces.

As the international media focus on the military operations in Aleppo only, Russia and al-Assad regime are committing massacres against civilians in Idlib after the arrival of thousands of migrants who were forced to leave rural Damascus areas and Homs into Idlib province.

According to analysts, the regime is trying to gather the rebels in Idlib, making it easy to fight them all fiercely in one place under the term of fighting terrorism. The fierce campaign may take long, but analysts say it will succeed eventually as happened in Aleppo if the global powers didn’t take any real steps to stop it.

As a conclusion, defeating the rebels and retrieving Aleppo means destroying the last major resistance stronghold of the Syrian rebels and will lead eventually to the victory of Assad regime and ending the Syrian revolution.