DAMASCUS (Dispatches) – Russian jets bombed terrorist-held bastions in northwestern Syria on Sunday in the most extensive strikes since six months ago, sources say.
Witnesses said the warplanes struck the western outskirts of Idlib city and that there was heavy artillery shelling in the mountainous Jabal al Zawya region in southern Idlib from nearby Syrian army outposts. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
"These thirty raids are by far the heaviest strikes so far since the ceasefire deal,” said Mohammed Rasheed, a former official and a volunteer plane spotter whose network covers the Russian air base in the western coastal province of Latakia.
Other tracking centers said Russian Sukhoi jets hit the Horsh area and Arab Said town, west of the city of Idlib. Unidentified drones also hit two terrorist-held towns in the Sahel al-Ghab plain, west of Hama province.
The move came after Turkey refused a Russian proposal to leave checkpoints on the territories controlled by the Syrian army and reduce the number of its troops in the region and withdraw heavy weapons.
The negotiations between Turkish and Russian military on the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib have not resulted in any agreements, with Moscow having disagreed with Ankara’s proposal to transfer the Syrian cities of Tall Rifat and Manbij under the Turkish control, a Turkish source familiar with the situation told Sputnik on Thursday.
Russia criticized Turkey for its failure to fulfill its obligations under a bilateral ceasefire agreement on Idlib province, where the two countries back opposing sides.
On March 5, Russia and Turkey came to an agreement on the ceasefire regime in Idlib, where Turkish aggression against the Syrian government had earlier risked starting a war.
There has been no wide-scale aerial bombing since a March agreement ended a Russian-backed bombing campaign that targeted the terrorists in the region which borders Turkey.
The deal between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin also defused a military confrontation between them after Ankara poured thousands of troops in Idlib province to hold back Russian-backed forces from new advances.
In another incident, a war monitor reported on Sunday that five pro-government fighters were killed in a blast in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr in Syria.
The five fighters were killed by a landmine explosion that targeted their vehicle a day earlier in a desert region in the western countryside of Dayr al-Zawr, said the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The observatory said it is highly believed that the blast was the work of the Daesh terrorist group, which has been active in the desert region and has intensified attacks on Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters since March.