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Russian jets hit Idlib as Turkey deploys more military equipment near Syrian border

Russian warplanes have been hitting targets in residential areas and on the frontlines of the opposition in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province as Turkey deployed more military vehicles to its southeastern province of Kilis near the Syrian border early Tuesday, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Eight trucks loaded with tanks and heavy artillery crossed Kilis in the direction of Elbeyli on the Syrian border, according to an Anadolu correspondent in the field.

The military vehicles were transported to troops on the Syrian side of the border, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking with the media.

According to local sources, Russian fighter jets attacked west of Idlib and north of Hama at noon on Tuesday.

The sources said the warplanes hit residential areas in Jisr al-Shughur City; areas of Basanqul, Ghani, Innab and Sirmaniyah, west of Idlib; and the Zayzun area, north of Hama, as well as the opposition’s frontlines.

According to a Syrian opposition aircraft observation point, 20 attacks have been carried out so far by three Russian warplanes that took off from Hmeimim airbase.

The number of casualties is unknown.

According to the Turkish agency, civilians living in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, fearing a possible assault by the Assad regime and its allies, are looking to Turkey to ensure the region’s safety.

Idlib residents are urging Turkey to increase the number of observation points in the area with a view to protecting civilians from an attack they believe is imminent.

US President Donald Trump on Monday warned against the Assad regime’s possible attacks in Idlib, urging Iran and Russia not to make “a grave humanitarian mistake” by taking part in the attacks.

Trump tweeted: “President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!”

In a response to Trump’s tweet, Russian Presidential Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a statement that it was “necessary to deal with the problem” in Idlib.

He added: “The situation in Idlib continues to be a topic of special concern in Moscow, Damascus, Ankara and Tehran.”

He said terrorists in the region were sending drones to Russian military bases posing “a significant threat.”

Located near the Turkish border, Idlib has been designated as a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly forbidden as part of the ongoing Astana process.

Nevertheless, for the past two months, the Idlib de-escalation zone has been the target of particularly fierce airstrikes by Russia and Assad regime forces.

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