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Airstrikes on Northwest Syria after Blast Wounds 3 Russians

Airstrikes on Northwest Syria after Blast Wounds 3 Russians

Tuesday, 14 July, 2020 - 18:15
A fireball erupts from the site of an explosion targeting a joint Turkish-Russian patrol on the M4 highway, near the Syrian town of Ariha. (AFP)

Russian warplanes carried out more than a dozen airstrikes in northwest Syria on Tuesday, opposition activists said, hours after a roadside landmine hit a joint Russian-Turkish patrol in the area wounding three Russian soldiers and an unspecified number of Turkish troops.

The Russian military said the mine attack happened while Russian and Turkish troops were patrolling the M4 highway in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone.

Russia and Turkey have been conducting regular patrols in Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold in Syria. The M4 highway links Syria's coast with the Iraqi border to the east.

It said the wounded Russian soldiers were quickly evacuated to the Russian base at Hmeimim and their lives weren’t in danger.

A Turkish armored vehicle that was taking part in the patrol was also damaged and some of its crew were wounded, the Russian military said. It didn’t say how many Turkish servicemen were involved.

Later on Tuesday, Russian warplanes carried out more than a dozen airstrikes on opposition-held parts of Idlib that have witnessed relative calm since early March.

Turkey and Russia had brokered a ceasefire that stopped a regime offensive that left hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported 18 Russian airstrikes following the blast. The group said government forces shelled the opposition-held town of Ariha wounding five people.

Hadi Abdullah, an Idlib-based activist, said Russian warplanes attacked areas in Idlib province and opposition-held parts of the coastal province of Latakia.

Idlib is home to some 3 million people, many of them internally displaced. It is the stronghold of al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The area is also home to extremist groups that are opposed to the ceasefire reached in March.

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