Syrian government and Russian warplanes launched dozens of airstrikes on rebel-held areas of Idlib and Hama provinces on Saturday, September 8, killing at least seven people. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Saturday's bombing campaign was the most intense in weeks and that the probability of the Syrian government launching its expected offensive on remaining rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria is rising by the day.
As of Saturday, it had not been reported when the Syrian government offensive will be launched; nevertheless, an escalating bombing campaign is expected to target Idlib province and surrounding areas in the coming days.
The intensification of the bombing campaign on September 8 comes one day after Iran, Russia, and Turkey failed to agree to a ceasefire which would deter the offensive. Hundreds of people staged protests in the city of Idlib on September 7 to protest the results of the trilateral summit as Syrian-government and Russian airstrikes hit rebel-held areas of Idlib and Hama provinces.
According to local sources, the impending assault led by government forces would first target southern and western parts of opposition-controlled areas in northwestern Syria, including Jisr Al-Shughur and the Al-Ghab plain in the western reaches of opposition-held territory as well as the towns of Al-Latamenah, Khan Shaykhun, and Ma'arat Al-Nu'man in the southern part of rebel-held territory, before government forces would attempt to strike and advance on Idlib city.
The UN along with several other countries have warned that a full-scale offensive on Idlib province could result in a humanitarian crisis. An estimated 3 million people live in the area, half of which are reportedly displaced from other areas affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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