MESOP Syria Daily: Regime Forces Continue Attacks in Latakia / TRUCE NOT REAL !
3 March 2016 – by Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Despite a “cessation of hostilities” across Syria, regime forces continued attempts to take opposition-held territory in Latakia Province in the west of the country.
The Syrian military, enabled by Russian airstrikes, have advanced in northern Latakia since the start of the year, capturing almost all of the province. However, when the cessation began on Saturday, there were still areas near the Turkish border that are rebel-occupied.Using the pretext that the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra — who are not covered by the cessation — are present, the regime forces have continued fighting. Fadi Ahmad, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army’s First Coastal Division said the Syrian Army had brought in reinforcements: “The battles were today very fierce.”
Latakia has been seen since the start of the 2011 uprising as a key area for the regime, with President Assad’s ancestral home in the province. It borders opposition-held Idlib Province and the al-Ghab Plain in northern Hama Province, contested since last spring.Since Saturday, Russian airstrikes and the Syrian military’s ground assaults have been reported in Latakia, Idlib, Hama, and Homs Province as well as near Damascus.
“Battles continue in vital areas that the regime wants, and where there was no truce in the first place. There is bombardment and battles,” a rebel commander said on Tuesday. “We are in the fifth day and there is no change in these areas.”
“We are concerned about reports that the Syrian regime has engaged in tank and artillery attacks against civilians,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, referring to reports about strikes near Latakia.“Obviously those kinds of attacks – if confirmed – would be a flagrant violation of cessation of hostilities.”
RESUMPTION OF TALKS “HYPOTHETICAL” IF ATTACKS CONTINUE
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura had said on Tuesday that an attempt for talks between the regime and the opposition-rebel High Negotiations Committee would resume on March 9 in Geneva, delaying the start by 48 hours to ensure the cessation agreement holds.
However, opposition official George Sabra said yesterday that there will be no discussions if ceasefires are not effective and aid for besieged areas is not assured:
As long as the truce does not help implement the terms [of a UN resolution], all dates for the resumption of negotiations remain hypothetical.
What is the value of a truce if its overseers — meaning US and Russia — do not push all sides to abide by it?
The White House did not respond specifically to the Latakia attacks or to the other areas where the Syrian military is trying to advance; however, spokesman Josh Earnest said: We are concerned about reports that the Syrian regime has engaged in tank and artillery attacks against civilians.Obviously those kinds of attacks – if confirmed – would be a flagrant violation of cessation of hostilities. www.mesop.de