Russian aircraft resumed massive strikes in northwestern Syria after a nearly six-month hiatus.
On Sunday, Russian warplanes bombed the western outskirts of the city of Idlib, while heavy artillery shelling from nearby Syrian army outposts was carried out in the mountainous district of Jabal al-Zawiya, Reuters reported, citing a Syrian opposition source.
According to him, about 30 air raids took place during the day, which was the largest operation of Russian forces in Syria since the conclusion of the ceasefire agreement.
In addition to Idlib, the Russian Air Force bombed the towns of Khorshid and Arab Said, and unidentified drones also struck two rebel-held towns in the Al-Ghab Plain, west of Hama province.
The Syrian army is once again concentrating forces on the front line and has been shelling Turkish military posts for about two weeks. In response, Ankara is sending additional forces to Syria. According to eyewitnesses, a convoy heading towards Idlib, consisting of at least 15 armored vehicles, was seen at night at the Kafr Lusin border crossing.
The new series of airstrikes took place three days after the spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, accused Turkey of delaying fulfillment of its obligations under the memorandum on de-escalation signed on March 5.
"Terrorists are taking full advantage of the 55 km enclaves around the illegal U.S. military base Al-Tanf, as well as in the area of Washington's so-called oil interests in the territories of the Arab tribes," she said.
At the same time, "the legitimate authorities of Syria are still deprived of any access to these areas of the country and, accordingly, the opportunity to impose basic order there," she stressed.
On Monday night, the Russian Defense Ministry warned of a possible “provocation using chemical weapons”.
According to deputy head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Warring Parties, Rear Admiral Alexander Grinkevich, militants of the terrorist group "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham" plan to stage attacks near the settlements of Erich and Besames in Idlib province.
Their aim is to accuse the Syrian government of "using chemical weapons against civilians," Grinkevich said.