Syria's Dictator Announces "Final Defeat" for the Rebels
The attacks on Idlib would continue, says Syria's rulers. Talks about a ceasefire have so far been unsuccessful. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the run.
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad wants to continue the offensive on the last major rebel stronghold Idlib despite Turkish calls for a ceasefire. "This is the prelude to their final defeat," said Assad in a speech broadcast on state television. His army would liberate all of Syria from "terror" and "enemies"; the fight would continue "regardless of the empty phrases from the north". Assad apparently alluded to Turkish threats of retaliation.
The Syrian army leadership announced further land gains. According to its own statements, it took up dozens of locations west of the city of Aleppo and now controls most of the province of Aleppo, which borders Idlib. Rescue workers reported that two hospitals had been hit in air raids and are now out of service. A spokesman for the rescue organisation White Helmets blamed Russia for the bombing of Syria's allies. Information from Syria is difficult to check independently.
Nearly 1m Syrians without a Shelter
Meanwhile, the government offensive is increasing the hardship in the Idlib region. According to the United Nations, 900,000 people are now displaced, most of them women and children. In the past four days alone, 40,000 people had fled the fighting.