Syria: clashes between the opposition and the government continue

Buildings destroyed by an attack Buildings destroyed by an attack Jorge Villalba on iStock

16 October 2021

12 people were injured and four lost their lives following an artillery strike in Syria

Twelve people were injured and four died on the 16th of October as a result of an artillery strike by the Syrian government in Sarmada, a city controlled by rebel forces located in the Idlib province near the border with Turkey.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, three policemen were killed in the course of the attack, while at least 17 people were injured. Estimates by the White Helmets, an opposition civil defense group, were higher and claimed that 23 were injured; the group says that the attacks were directed mainly on the city, but also on a road that connected it with the border crossing of Bab al-Hawa, which leads to Turkey. The attack occurred following multiple violations of a truce reached in March 2020, leading to increasing tensions within what has been referred to as being the last rebel stronghold in northwestern Syria. This truce was negotiated by Turkey, a supporter of the opposition in Syria, and Russia, a supporter of the Syrian government, and at the time ended the Syrian government’s offensive in the region. The government has sought to restore its control over the territory it lost during the ongoing conflict, which began in 2011; up to now, according to the same source,  it has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people and has displaced about 23 million, with 5 million having sought out asylum outside the war-torn country.

On the 17th of July, President Bashar al-Assad was sworn in for a new mandate; on the same day, the national army intensified attacks on the northwestern rebel enclave, which is home to thousands of displaced individuals. As the president swore to free the areas from rebels, his forces attacked the villages of Sarja and Ehsin; the strikes led  to the deaths of 14 civilians, including seven children. As such, the artillery strikes of the 16th of October are but the latest in a series of attempts at reclaiming the disputed territory and, to the most certain detriment of its residents, they are unlikely to be the last. 


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Author: Sara Taherzadeh; Editor: Maxime Grenier



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