MOSCOW   -   Russia says Syrian government forces have unilaterally ceased fire in the northern Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold.

Fighting erupted in Idlib late last month, effectively shattering a cease-fire negotiated by Russia and Turkey that had been in place since September. Russia has firmly backed President Bashar Assad’s government in the eight-year civil war, while Turkey has supported the opposition.

In a brief statement on Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Sides in Syria said government forces had ceased fire as of midnight. It described the move as unilateral, but did not give details.

The pro-government Syrian Central Military Media said government forces responded to shelling by militants Sunday on the edge of Idlib. It gave no further details. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group, reported an airstrike on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, saying it inflicted casualties.

The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense also reported shelling near the town of Jisr al-Shughour without reporting any casualties.

Syrian government forces intensified their attacks as of April 30 on Idlib. The area is home to some 3 million people, many of whom are internally displaced. The last round of violence also displaced some 180,000 in rebel-held areas.

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The fighting effectively shattered a cease-fire negotiated by Russia and Turkey that had been in place since September. The agreement between firm Syrian regime-backer Russia and opposition-supporting Turkey also stipulated a crack down on the HTS in return for halting a destructive Syrian government offensive into the province.

The warring Sides in Syria said government forces had ceased fire as of midnight, the Russian Defence Ministry’s Centre for Reconciliation said. No further details were given of the move that was said to be unilateral, Reuters said. Turkey on Friday accused the Syrian government forces of violating a ceasefire agreement reached with Russia for Idlib with Turkey’s UN ambassador expressing Ankara’s concerns for a possible major humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib at a UN Security Council meeting.

Meanwhile, Turkey on Sunday bolstered its military presence at its Syrian border, independent news site Dike reported.

A convoy of military vehicles carrying commando units and tanks passed through the town of Kırıkhan in the southern province of Hatay, arriving at Reyhanlı on the Syrian border, Diken said.