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Idlib: Russia rejects truce as violence mounts

February 25, 2020

Russia has dismissed the idea of a ceasefire in the last rebel-held part of Syria, saying it would be "capitulating to terrorists." At least 19 civilians, including children, were killed in Idlib on Tuesday.

Man carries a baby amid damaged buildings in Idlib
Image: picture-alliance/Anadolu Agency/M. Said

Russia announced on Tuesday it would never agree to a ceasefire with "terrorist" rebels in Syria's Idlib region.

Russia and Turkey support opposing sides in Syria's ongoing civil war. The Idlib province is Syria's last rebel stronghold. Russia has insisted that Turkey remove extremist militant groups from Idlib.

Read more: 'I feel totally alone': Life under siege in Idlib

Now they have dismissed the possibility of a truce. Such a truce "would encourage them to continue blatantly violating universal conventions," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at UN meeting in Geneva.

"This is not concern about human rights, this is capitulating before terrorists and even a reward for their activities," Lavrov told the UN Human Rights Council.

More civilians killed in Idlib

At least 19 civilians were killed in Idlib on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Eight children were among those killed by regime air strikes and artillery fire.

Read more: Opinion: Declaration of moral bankruptcy in Idlib

"Today's attacks are another sign that fighting in north west Syria has reached catastrophic levels of violence against children and civilians," charity Save the Children's Sonia Khush said.

Meanwhile, Turkish-backed rebels said they have seized the town of Nairab in Idlib, after expelling Russian forces.

Red Cross urges safe passage for civilians

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also called on the warring sides to allow safe passage for civilians to escape attacks. It reminded them that hospitals, markets and schools are protected by law.

"We are urging parties to allow civilians to move to safety, either in areas they control or across the front lines," ICRC spokeswoman Ruth Hetherington said Tuesday.

Violence in Idlib province has led to one of the largest displacements of civilians in recent history, as well as a large number of casualties.

Civilians paying the price in the battle for Idlib

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ed/aw (dpa, AFP, AP)