Russia is planning a new offensive on the Syrian opposition province of Idlib, rebel fighters said on Thursday, following a resumption of bombing and shelling by pro-regime forces.
It follows an uptick in bombing of areas in and around Idlib province by Russian jets, with rebels saying there are also signs of a possible military build-up in regime areas, according to Reuters.
Russia and the Syrian regime agreed a ceasefire on 31 August, following a five-month assault on the area, which has killed over a thousand civilians and forced around 1 million people from their homes.
“Artillery shelling that has targeted villages of southern Idlib has not stopped since the alleged ceasefire,” Mohammad Rashid, spokesman for the Jaish al-Nasr, said.
Major Youssef Hamoud, National Army spokesperson told the agency that there are signs a major Russian-led offensive on Idlib is being prepared with Iranian militias shelling the area.
“The amassing of Iranian militias and Russian ground troops are all signals that something is being prepared for a new offensive,” Hamoud said.
The failure of the Russian-led offensive has been put down to Iran’s partial involvement in the assault.
Iranian militias have been key to the regime’s fight-back against the rebels and central to successful offensives in East Aleppo and other areas.
The involvement of Iranian militias could be a game changer, many analysts have said, but it is still not known if the intention is to capture the whole province or the main road linking Aleppo and Damascus.
“The goals that Russia has set has still not been achieved, which is taking the highways and trying to restore the regime’s pre-war commercial arteries,” Hamoud said.