Syrian govt defends Idlib campaign, condemns France

Syrian govt defends Idlib campaign, condemns France

In the event, at least one rebel group - this being Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) - has chose to re-militarize the Al-Hass area and to this end, the last twelve hours has witnessed the jihadist faction flood southwest Aleppo with reinforcements.

"We are witnessing a clear intensification of Russia's military strategy, with systematic attacks on civilian facilities perpetrated with total disregard for worldwide law", warns Fadel Abdul Ghany, Chairperson of the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).

The fighting in Idlib has forced almost 100,000 people to flee since early December, the United Nations says.

The Syrian government hit back on Thursday against French criticism of its military campaign in rebel-held Idlib, saying it was targeting terrorist groups that were not party to an agreement to reduce fighting in the rebel-held region.

The U.N. agency said the situation in Idlib was "extremely chaotic" with newly displaced people reportedly scattered across open areas.

A day earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said the Syrian army entered the southern part of Abu al-Duhur air base, adding that clashes were taking place inside the compound.

Ninety-six civilians, including 27 children, have been killed since December 25 in Syrian or Russian air strikes on Idlib, according to the Observatory.

On his first visit to Syria, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock met with Syrian authorities and travelled to the central city of Homs on Wednesday to see the impact of the conflict on civilians for himself.

"Regime forces are striking moderate opposition with the pretext of fighting against Al-Nusra (Front)", Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, referring to the former Al-Qaeda affiliate. Millions have been displaced.