Syrian regime forces killed more than 1,800 civilians and wrested control of 2,000 square kilometers in Idlib de-escalation zone despite the Sochi deal on Sept. 17, 2018 between Turkey and Russia.
To maintain the permanent peace and cease-fire in the ongoing civil war in Syria, four areas have been designated as de-escalation zones in May 2017 by a deal struck between the guarantor countries Turkey, Russia and Iran.
But the regime forces backed by Russia continued their attacks and took over all areas except Idlib, a northwestern province near Turkish border.
Accelerating regime efforts to amass rising amounts of forces to completely take over Idlib only came to a pause with the Sochi deal on Sept. 17, 2018 between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The two sides agreed to set up a demilitarized zone — in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited — in Idlib.
The regime and Russia attacks were paused just for a while after the deal and almost 80,000 displaced Syrians returned to their homes. But the regime forces, ignoring the Sochi deal, resumed their attacks since the beginning of February last year.
Over 1,800 civilians killed
The regime and its supporter Russia continued attacks on residential areas despite the Sochi deal which aimed to strengthen the cease-fire and protect the civilians.
More than 1,800 civilians have been killed due to artillery fires and airstrikes since the deal.
In these attacks, many mosques, schools, hospitals, and civil defense offices have been targeted several times.
Roughly 1.8 million civilians displaced
Assad regime is trying to drive the entire civilians in Idlib to the Turkish border with the help of Russia and Iran, hitting civilian settlements.
Regime forces regard people in Idlib as “terrorists”, and they also do not discriminate among the armed forces, either as oppositions or radicals.
Since January 2019, the number of Syrians moved to areas near Turkish border has mounted to nearly 1.8 million.
Airstrikes turn to land assaults
Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar pointed out in May 10 of last year that the rising number of attacks and harassments of the regime elements in the south of Idlib had turned into a land operation since May 6.
The regime has taken over large districts such as Kafr Nabudah, Khan Shaykhun, Maarat Al-Numan, Saraqib as well as south and southeast of Idlib, rural areas of northern and eastern Hama, many rural areas in southern and western Aleppo.
So, the regime seized around 2,000 square kilometers of Idlib de-escalation zone.