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  • It's been five years since Russia entered the war in Syria in support of President Bashar al Assad, tipping the balance in favor off the regime.

  • Assad forces, assisted by Russia and Iran, now control most of the country.

  • Kurdish forces still hold the northeast, but have signed a deal with Assad.

  • Idlib in the northwest, is the last remaining province under rebel control.

  • With Turkey's support, a cease fire for Idlib came into effect in March of this year, but government and Russian airstrikes are increasing again on many in it lived fear a decisive battle for the province.

  • I could start soon, the W's Birgitta Sulka reports.

  • Even when he's making tea, plane spotter Abu Mazen's focuses on the job not to miss a single military plane taking off from the basis controlled by the Assad regime.

  • Theo, 41 year old, has set up a many listening station to follow Syrian and Russian radio communications at a secret location for security reasons.

  • Along with other volunteers, he monitors all air traffic over Idlib around the clock waken listen in to the pilots radio communications and find out his destination so we know where the bombs might fall e.

  • Do this work for civilians.

  • If we can warn them, we can save lives way for as soon as he spots anything, Abouhossein warns.

  • Local civilians, hospitals sent first responders using radio and other networks.

  • He says the number off air raids on Idlib has risen significantly in recent weeks, although the ceasefire agreement is still in effect.

  • Back about my health.

  • My biggest fear is that the Russian Air Force will bomb ID Lib City because it is so densely populated.

  • Yeah, in recent weeks, the bombs, sometimes more than 20 day, have mainly targeted less populated areas.

  • But there's growing concern that a sudden his forces are set to launch a new offensive, also targeting hospitals and schools in a similar way to the beginning of the year, when attacks flattened the small town off Katharine Neuron.

  • Many families have since returned home, but Halladay Hallett, from the local council, has no idea how they'll survive the coming winter.

  • Water supplies hospitals, electricity generators have all been destroyed and covered.

  • 19 infections are on the rise way.

  • Can't quarantine people to protect them from the coronavirus.

  • They've got to work to feed their families.

  • Way would need support from relief agencies in our town, but no one has shown up.

  • Hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge in the sprawling camps off northern Italy province here to conditions are appalling, but there's at least some support from relief organizations.

  • Farmer Ahmad Sulaiman is among those who desperately need that support.

  • A year ago, his house was destroyed in an air raid.

  • One of his sons was killed.

  • Ahmed lost both legs.

  • He's grateful for the 10th they were given, but he's anxious about the winter that lies ahead.

  • I'm disabled.

  • I can't walk at all.

  • We've got no income.

  • Nothing at all.

  • Max Ahmed says his wife left him because she could no longer bear the gloom and the misery in the tent.

  • Since then, his sister has been looking after him and the three Children.

  • They've never known anything but war never been to school s Children are very bad shape.

  • They don't listen to me, especially the eldest is driving us crazy.

  • They just want their mother back.

  • So what does the future hold?

  • How could they possibly keep going?

  • What will they do for heating when winter sets in?

  • What about the coronavirus?

  • and where can they go next?

  • If Assad's forced to start a new offensive, Too many questions and no answers.

  • Za bringing Daniel Gerlach form.

  • Or on this he's a Middle East analyst and editor in chief of Zenith magazine, which focuses on the region.

  • Welcome to D.

  • W.

  • Let's start with the humanitarian situation.

  • How many people are there in rebel held areas of Idlib?

  • On what are conditions like for them?

  • Well, the conditions have been illustrated quite drastically in the report and then the reports of the relief organizations.

  • Um, it's very difficult to give accurate numbers at the moment about rebel controlled areas, Turkish controlled areas, because the front line has been shifting.

  • And there's also a different areas that are under control of different rebel organizations, of course, but we have to see that there is about maybe two million people that are exposed toe military operations to the threat off increase of bombings.

  • And of course, this is a very difficult situation that Libyans have been living with for quite some time.

  • Although the yes, so e was going to say it s we've heard the fears in the report that the Syrian government is looking likely.

  • Thio, try and retake.

  • Um Idlib.

  • Are they actually in a position to be able to do that?

  • I doubt that.

  • To be honest, I think it is absolutely possible that we will see an increase of military operations, aerial operations, artillery shelling.

  • We've seen exchanges in the last couple of days.

  • Also rebels targeting regime held areas and regime troops.

  • But it would be quite untypical for the Syrian regime and the Russians to try a large ground operation.

  • Now that winter is approaching.

  • Also in light of the pandemic that is savagely savagely, uh, going after Syrians all across the country, of course, Syrians are exposed to the coronavirus.

  • We don't have official numbers, and the regime seems to be playing that down.

  • But it's a very, very serious threat in Syria at the moment.

  • So I doubt that there would be a major ground operation.

  • But I think there is another rather cynical and geopolitical aspect of it.

  • Um, if Russia should decide to increase its pressure to start a bombing campaign over it like this would not be so much to reestablish Syrian regime control over it look.

  • But to put pressure on Turkey, which is now of course, very busy with the military escalation.

  • The caucuses with Turkey is supporting Azerbaijan, Andi, Russia supporting Armenia on the other side and we should not forget that There's also other conflict scenarios in Libya, in the eastern Mediterranean and quite typically, Russia has been using this card, increasing military pressure in Syria and whenever, whenever it was suitable to force Turkey into some sort of a compromise.

  • And I think this is not so much about reestablishing regime control over it.

  • Lip though, of course this would be President Assad's ultimate goal on he would try to attempt this before next year's presidential election.

  • But I think what the Russians have in mind here is something very different.

  • Okay, so it's obviously it's it's quite a complicated situation, but it does sound just looking at the Russian involvement in this conflict that Russia is moving to its own agenda on it has its own goals that it, it is looking thio achieve in the era.

  • Not necessarily, um Thio buttress that the Syrian regime yeah, which could be in line with the agenda of the Syrian regime of the Russian foreign minister.

  • Lavrov has traveled recently with a pretty high ranking delegation to Damascus to give us that.

  • I think some reinsurance reassurance, but also to try toe like to develop some sort of a political vision for the future of Syria, because the Russians have been now present in Syria, that the military of firepower for five years, but in fact they haven't really.

  • They have saved the Syrian regime and they have.

  • They have gained leverage in the Middle East, but they haven't really found a political solution which I think they are still interested in presenting.

  • I think the Russians want to keep, of course, military control, and there's actually no question that they want to force rebel held areas into submission.

  • But on the other hand, they see that Syria needs some sort of a solution on authoritarians solution, of course, at Russian gusto.

  • But, uh, that needs to be political progress in light of the upcoming presidential election.

  • And so the Russians are engaged and try to involve the United Nations.

  • They It was the idea to bring together some sort of a constitutional committee with Syrians from regime held areas and from the opposition toe, create some compromise and find some sort of a perspective.

  • And they haven't been very successful of this so far.

  • So I think Russia will remain involved militarily and politically, but sometimes for very different goals.

  • Good talking to you.

  • It's very clear as ever.

  • Daniel Girl from Zenith magazine.

  • Thank you.

It's been five years since Russia entered the war in Syria in support of President Bashar al Assad, tipping the balance in favor off the regime.

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Syria’s Idlib province fears renewed military offensive | DW News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/23
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