Idlib likely to be Syria’s next bloody the­ater af­ter Aleppo

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Bassem Mroue

The bat­tle for Aleppo has gripped the world, but it is hardly the only ac­tive front across war-torn Syria. One of the next tar­gets for the forces of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad prob­a­bly will be the heart­land of rebel ter­ri­tory, the neigh­bor­ing prov­ince of Idlib.

The prov­ince west of Aleppo is a strong­hold of al-Qaeda’s Syria af­fil­i­ate and is apacked with tens of thou­sands of rebels, many of them evac­u­ated from other parts of the coun­try, mak­ing it likely to be an even more bloody the­ater than Aleppo.

Idlib has di­rect links to the Turk­ish bor­der and is only a few kilo­me­ters north of Hama, a cen­tral prov­ince and key point for de­fend­ing As­sad’s coastal strongholds and nearby Rus­sian mil­i­tary bases.

Asked where he will turn to next, As­sad has sug­gested his first pri­or­ity, af­ter for­ti­fy­ing the area around Aleppo city, would be Idlib.

“Iden­ti­fy­ing which city comes next de­pends on which city con­tains the largest num­ber of ter­ror­ists and which city pro­vides other coun­tries with the op­por­tu­nity to sup­port them lo­gis­ti­cally,” As­sad said last week.

“Cur­rently, there are di­rect links be­tween Aleppo and Idlib be­cause of the presence of Jab­hat al-Nusra in­side and on the out­skirts of Aleppo and in Idlib,” he said, a ref­er­ence to the al-Qaeda af­fil­i­ate, for­merly known as the Smoke rises from govern­ment buses in the prov­ince of Idlib, Syria, on Sun­day. Ac­tivists said mil­i­tants have burned at least five buses as­signed to evac­u­ate wounded and sick peo­ple from two vil­lages in north­ern Syria. SANA via AP

Rus­sia threat­ens U.N. veto

• united na­tions» Rus­sia threat­ened Sun­day to veto a U.N. res­o­lu­tion de­mand­ing im­me­di­ate ac­cess to ar­eas of Aleppo be­sieged by the Syr­ian govern­ment, while at the United Na­tions, the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil held closed-door con­sul­ta­tions on a French­drafted res­o­lu­tion that de­mands safe evac­u­a­tions, im­me­di­ate and un­con­di­tional U.N. ac­cess to de­liver hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and pro­tec­tion of med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and per­son­nel.

Rus­sia’s U.N. am­bas­sador, Nusra Front, now the Fatah al-Sham Front. He added that the de­ci­sion about what comes next will be made through dis­cus­sions with his Rus­sian and Ira­nian Vi­taly Churkin, said he would veto the res­o­lu­tion un­less it was changed.

Rus­sia pro­posed re­quir­ing Syr­ian govern­ment ap­proval be­fore the United Na­tions could de­ploy any mon­i­tors to east­ern Aleppo to check on civil­ians.

Evac­u­a­tions thrown into doubt •

aleppo, syria» A shaky deal to evac­u­ate thou­sands of trapped civil­ians was thrown into doubt again af­ter mil­i­tants burned buses in­volved in the res­cue op­er­a­tion. al­lies.

The govern­ment’s loss of Jisr al-Shughour, in the west­ern­most cor­ner of the prov­ince, and with it the whole of Idlib prov­ince, in

The Aleppo evac­u­a­tions were to have been part of a wider deal that would si­mul­ta­ne­ously al­low more than 2,000 sick and wounded peo­ple to leave two pro-govern­ment vil­lages that have been be­sieged by Syr­ian rebels. Most vil­lagers are Shi­ite Mus­lims, while most rebels are Sunni Mus­lims.

Six buses that were among those poised to en­ter the vil­lages of Foua and Kfarya on Sun­day were set on fire by uniden­ti­fied mil­i­tants, pre­sum­ably to scut­tle any deal. The As­so­ci­ated Press sum­mer 2015, was what prompted Rus­sia to in­ter­vene to shore up As­sad’s forces, even­tu­ally turn­ing the war’s mo­men­tum back in his fa­vor.

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