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Hundreds protest against regime in Syria’s Idlib


Men chant slogans and wave flags of the Syrian opposition during a demonstration against the government offensive in the northwestern Idlib province, in its capital of Idlib on September 6, 2019. (Photo by Zein Al RIFAI / AFP)

Hundreds of Syrians held anti-regime protests Friday in rebel-held Idlib province where a fragile ceasefire has paused a deadly months-old offensive.

Some demonstrators gathered near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, where Turkish border guards last week fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse Syrian protesters.

They waved the three-star flag of the eight-year-old uprising and chanted against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while some called on rebel backer Turkey to open its borders.


“We only want the Turkish government to open its borders for our brothers who live under the olive trees,” protester Abu Haytham told AFP, referring to displaced Syrians living in the open air.

The demonstrations came after Damascus’s ally Russia announced a ceasefire for the northwestern Idlib region last Friday.

Airstrikes have stopped since the agreement went into effect last Saturday morning, but sporadic artillery fire has continued.

Russia-backed regime forces have been pressing an offensive against Idlib since the end of April.

More than 960 civilians have been killed in four months of heavy bombardment, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The United Nations says more than 400,000 people have been displaced.

Last week, an Assad advisor said the Idlib ceasefire was “temporary”.

It “serves the grand strategy of liberating every inch of Syrian territory”, Buthaina Shaaban told Lebanon’s pro-Damascus Al-Mayadeen TV.

According to Al-Watan newspaper in Damascus, the truce sets an eight-day deadline for jihadists and rebels to withdraw from areas around a key highway which the regime wants to control.

But anti-government forces have yet to pull out.

Syria’s conflict has killed more than 370,000 people and driven millions from their homes since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.


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