U.S. State Department: We are monitoring situation in northwest Syria with concern

WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department indicated in a statement that it is monitoring the situation in northwestern Syria with deep concern, especially after the violent attack by the Syrian government forces and its allies, the Russian air force and Lebanese Hezbollah.

According to the statement, government forces are indiscriminately bombing the area, as thousands of civilians live in extremely harsh conditions in Maarat al-Numan and have no shelter. Later in the day, Maarat al-Numan was captured by the Syrian Arab Army with little resistance.

The statement also mentioned that the violence being perpetrated in the region by Iranian, Russian, and Syrian government forces impedes the continuation of the truce as per Resolution 2254 of the U.N. Security Council and hinders the return of thousands of refugees to their homes.

The State Department also called for an immediate truce and an end to the insecure conditions of civilians in the region. Moreover, it expressed its willingness to play a role in ending these conditions through diplomatic attempts and the application of economic sanctions on the Syrian government.

Since December, Idlib Province and its adjacent areas, which is home to some 3 million people, nearly half of them IDPs, have witnessed a military escalation by the Syrian government forces and its Russian and Iranian allies. The escalation is concentrated in southern rural Idlib and western rural Aleppo, where part of the international highway that links the city of Aleppo with the capital, Damascus, passes.

After weeks of violent bombing, Russia announced on 9 January that it has reached a ceasefire agreement, which was later confirmed by Turkey, but it only lasted for a few days.

Observers believe that the Syrian government forces are seeking, through their attacks in Idlib, to gradually regain control over the part of the international highway that passes in Idlib and western Aleppo in order to fully control it.