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North-west Syria

Crops left to rot as Russia-Turkey tensions intensify

The fig harvest in the Zawiya Mountain region - Idlib governorate - was due last month. Alas, most farmers have fled to areas closer to the border with Turkey in the past few weeks, as the area was affected by renewed bombing by the Syrian regime and Russia.

A farmer from the town of Al Bara said: “The figs of Jabal Al Zawiya are the best. But we didn’t dare come near the trees this season.” He said he fled to the border town of Atma after cluster bombs were dropped. The escalation of violence in Idlib and other parts of the north-west echoes a similar build-up in the same region last year between players in the Syrian civil war with ties to Turkey and Russia.

An offensive on Idlib by regime forces and pro-Iranian militias, supported by Russian air power, brought Moscow and Ankara close to war in the first quarter of 2020. Large-scale violence would affect Turkey’s expansion in Syria and its ability to check advances by Kurdish militias in areas on its border.


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