Syrian government forces halt fire in Idlib, says Russia

Syrian government forces have unilaterally ceased fire in the northern Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing the Russian Defence Ministry.

Russian aircraft have been carrying out strikes on Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib simultaneously with Syrian regime warplanes since April 30, resulting in the death of dozens and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Syrians.

Most of Idlib province has been under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, since Jan. 2019.

The fighting effectively shattered a cease-fire negotiated by Russia and Turkey that had been in place since September. The agreement between firm Syrian regime-backer Russia and opposition-supporting Turkey also stipulated a crack down on the HTS in return for halting a destructive Syrian government offensive into the province. 

The warring Sides in Syria said government forces had ceased fire as of midnight, the Russian Defence Ministry’s Centre for Reconciliation said.  

No further details were given of the move that was said to be unilateral, Reuters said.

Turkey on Friday accused the Syrian government forces of violating a ceasefire agreement reached with Russia for Idlib with Turkey's UN ambassador expressing Ankara’s concerns for a possible major humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib at a UN Security Council meeting. 

Meanwhile, Turkey on Sunday bolstered its military presence at its Syrian border, independent news site Dike reported.

A convoy of military vehicles carrying commando units and tanks passed through the town of Kırıkhan in the southern province of Hatay, arriving at Reyhanlı on the Syrian border, Diken said.