Leaflets dropped over Syria's Idlib call for reconciliation

August 09, 2018 - 10:12 am

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian military helicopters on Thursday dropped leaflets over parts of the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, calling on residents to reconcile with the government as warplanes pounded the region, opposition activists said.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted a copy of the leaflets. They say the Syrian war "is close to an end" and that it's time to stop the bloodletting and residents should join in reconciliation "as our people did in other parts of Syria."

The leaflets signed by the Armed Forces Command had photos of Syria before and after the war with a caption that read: "This is how Syria was before terrorism."

Ibaa news agency, the media arm of al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee, said the leaflets were dropped over the towns of Taftanaz, Kfarya and Binnish adding the activists in the area poked fun at the leaflets.

Activists said even as helicopters dropped the leaflets, warplanes pounded several rebel-held areas elsewhere in Idlib, which has become home to tens of thousands of internally displaced people.

Idlib is the last major rebel-held region in Syria and there are concerns that a government offensive would displace hundreds of thousands of people inside the province bordering Turkey.

Ibaa said the leaflets were part of a "psychological war" by the government that has not been able to capture Idlib militarily.

In southern Syria, a woman who was among dozens of women and children kidnapped by the Islamic State group in the southern province of Sweida last month died while in captivity, activists said.

Some 30 women and children have been held since the July 25 attack by IS on villages in Sweida and a nearby village that left more than 200 people dead. Since then, negotiations have been ongoing to exchange the hostages for IS fighters.

Last week, IS killed one of the hostages, a 19-year-old boy, to pressure the government and local officials in the negotiations.

The Sweida 24 activist collective posted a photograph of the woman while in detention and another after her death. It said the photo of the woman was sent by IS saying it was a natural death due to "harsh health conditions."

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